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Early Days in Upper 

The Letters of 

John Lanqton 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of Toronto 

Early Days in Vppek 

Lette-rs of John Lanqton 

from the Bdckwoods of Vppcr 

Canada and the Audit Office of 
the Province of Canada 

Edited by W. A. Lanqton 



Copyright, Canada, 1926 




During the first four years after my father came out 
to Canada he wrote home to his family circle in Eng- 
land a series of letters which form the first part of this 
collection. These letters were carefully copied by his 
father, to whom they were chiefly addressed, and were 
bound in book form. They have thus been preserved 
in their entirety. The reason for copying them is sug- 
gested by the only surviving original letter. At that 
time letters were sent without envelopes and, as post- 
age was charged by the sheet and was expensive, long 
letters, like this which survives, were so diligently 
''crossed" in the writing that they were difficult to 
read or refer to. When my father's family came to 
Canada to join him this book of copied letters, com- 
prising the letters from 1833 to 1837, was left behind 
in England with William Langton the elder brother. 
He copied from the occasional letters my father con- 
tinued to write to him portions of special interest, 
such as the extracts about Lmnbering and the Clergy 
Reserves, but preserved the original manuscript of the 
letters about university affairs and the audit of the 
public accounts. 

It was not until more than ten years after my 
father's death that his letters were brought out from 
their place of preservation and placed in my hands. 

The letters concerning university affairs and the 
public accounts have been published in the Canadian 
Historical Review, and were annotated by Mr. W. 
Stewart Wallace, the editor of the Review, whose notes 
have been preserved. 


The illustrations of Peterborough and the Back 
Lakes were made by Anne Langton, after 1837 when 
she came out from England. The views of Peter- 
borough can hardly have been made before the years 
1852-55, during which John Langton and his family 
lived in Peterborough. They are either exact repro- 
ductions of her dra\\dngs, though much reduced, or, 
where the originals were too worn for reproduction, 
are copies traced from her outlines, which were in ink, 
and finished in imitation of the originals. 

W. A. Langton 


Thomas Langton and John Langton - - - 

Thomas Langton and His Family - - - 

The Family Party at Blythe in 1840 - - - 

Peterborough From the West 

Peterborough From White's Tavern - - - 

Alexander McAndrew 

Fenelon Falls With the Mill - - - - 

Peterborough From the South - - _ . 

Blythe, the Original Settlement - - - - 

Blythe at the Present Time 

View of Blythe, After Addition in 1841 

The Church at Fenelon Falls . . _ . 

View from Blythe, Looking Towards Fenelon 
Falls -- -------- 

The House in Peterborough 

William Langton -------- 

John Langton, 1856 ------- 

John Langton Aetat. 70 ------ 





















Sketch Map of First Explorations ------ 13 

Plan of Cottage 88 

Interior Views of Cottage 89 

Map of the Rapids at Bobcaygeon - 173 

Plan of Blythe ----- i84 


OF John Lanqton 


John Langton, the writer of these letters, was born 
at Blythe Hall, near Ormskirk, Lancashire, on April 
6th, 1808. His father, Thomas Langton, who was a 
youngest son, was, for his portion, sent to Russia at 
the age of seventeen, to learn business in an English 
mercantile house at Riga, on the understanding of a 
partnership being provided for him on attaining his 
majority. As he w^as born in 1770, he cannot have been 
a partner for more than ten years when, at the be- 
ginning of the last century, as Europe was no longer a 
safe place for Englishmen, he returned to England 
with sufficient fortune to live comfortably, without 
active participation in business. The fortune was in- 
vested in a partnership with an elder brother in his 
business in Liverpool. Neither of the partners lived in 
Liverpool; management of the business was in the 
hands of a son of the elder brother. 

Thomas Langton, having married in 1802 and bought 
Blythe Hall soon after, devoted himself to farming its 
lands and teaching his children grammar and Latin. 
He seems to have been of an inventive, if not specula- 
tive, disposition. The emigration later of his ^^oungest 
son, John, to Canada was probably of his instigation. 
Allusions in these letters indicate that he burned to 
have a hand in the contrivance of life in the back- 
woods; and he finally came out there to live — or, as it 
turned out, to die. 



At this earlier period, when his attention was given 
to the education of his children, he was so deeply im- 
pressed by the system of Pestalozzi that in 1815, when 
the final defeat of Napoleon opened up Europe again 
to travel, he decided to take his family to Switzerland 
to put the education of his children, WiUiam, Anne and 
John, in Pestalozzi 's hands. So Blythe was let, and 
soon after the battle of Waterloo they left England 
and proceeded in a leisurely manner to Yverdon, 
where Pestalozzi had his school. There Mr. Langton 
took a house, and his two elder children were taught at 
home by tutors from Pestalozzi 's Institute, while John, 
aged eight, went to the Institute. After two years at 
Y'verdon, it was thought that a milder climate was 
necessary for the eldest son. For the next three years 
therefore the family lived in the south of France, Italy 
and Germany ; receiving from tutors an ordinary Eng- 
lish education, and acquiring also facility in speaking 
the languages of the countries in which they resided. 

In the year 1820 they returned to England, because 
of anxiety about the conditions of the business in which 
the family fortune was invested. Whether any one was 
to blame, or whether it was merely the consequences 
of the state of the world after the Napoleonic wars, 
the business was much contracted and was no longer so 
profitable. In 1826 came a commercial crisis which 
decided Mr. Langton, for fear of involving his credit- 
ors, to wind up the business by private arrangement 
with them. There was no bankruptcy, but there was 
henceforth poverty. Had not an aunt come to the 
rescue, John, who was already entered at Cambridge, 
could not have continued there. He took his degree in 
1829, and after some uncertainty and experiment in 
Liverpool emigrated to Canada in 1833, when he was 

Thomas Langtox and his Family 

From (Irdicings )nade in Rome 




































twenty-five. His father tried, in more than one way, to 
restore to some extent his fortunes ; but he was of the 
wrong age, and perhaps not of the right kind. In 1837, 
after much debate, he joined his son in Canada, with 
his mf e, his daughter Anne, and his mf e 's sister. Miss 
Currer. The eldest son, William, who was now man- 
ager of Sir Benjamin Heywood's bank at Manchester, 
remained in England and became a distinguished 
banker, the creator of the Manchester and Salford 

The following letters give an account of the settle- 
ment on Sturgeon Lake, near Fenelon Falls, on land 
which was afterwards called Blythe Farm. The first 
series of letters ceased with the arrival in Canada, in 
1837, of the persons to whom they had been written. 

The family life at Blythe Farm was of course 
monotonous and of private interest only, but the 
records show that it was both comfortable and happy; 
and, in consequence of the necessity of hospitality 
where there were no inns, Blythe, in spite of its re- 
moteness, was often enlivened by society. 

Thomas Langton had died early in 1838. To the 
family, then consisting of his mother, aunt and sister, 
John in 1845 added a wife, Lydia, the daughter of the 
Kev. James Hartley Dunsford of The Beehive on 
xSturgeon Lake. In 1847 his mother and aunt both 
died, and the tie that held him to the farm was broken. 
He had been experimenting before this in the square 
timber lumbering of that time, about which there are 
some letters included in this collection. Later he 
invested money in some mills near Peterborough. 
This took him to Peterborough to live. He became 
Warden of the county for some years. From 1851 to 
1855 he represented in the Legislature, first the united 


counties of Peterborough and Victoria, and afterwards 
the county of Peterborough. 

In 1855 he was appointed Auditor of public accounts. 
This involved a move to Toronto. Soon after arrival 
there, the Governor General, Sir Edmund Head, ap- 
pointed him to the Senate of the University of Toronto, 
and in the follo^^dng year he was elected Vice- 

The Audit Office was neM-, and its methods and ma- 
chinery were to be created ; hence the interest attach- 
ing to the letters about the work which are included in 
this volume. Addressed to his elder brother, who was 
by this time a person of large financial and executive 
experience, they may be regarded as part of the work 
of creation: a process of arranging and testing ideas 
by conmmnicating them to a person of judgment in 
such matters. Confederation, with the accompanying 
need of co-ordinating the accounts of the provinces, 
enlarged the field of work. He became then Auditor 
General and was also the Deputy Minister of Finance. 
The combined offices he continued to carry on until he 
was superannuated in 1878. He was then seventy and 
lived in Toronto for sixteen years longer, dying on 
March 19, 1894. 

Vppek Canada 

IN Eakly Days 


Grant (W. L.)— Ontario High School History of Canada. Tor- 
onto, 1923. Pp. xii, 465. 

Howison (John) — Sketches of Upper Canada. Second Edition. 
Edinburgh, 1825. Pp. 354. 

Jameson (Anna) — Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Can- 
ada. London, 1838. 3 vols. 

Kennedy (W. P. M.), ed. — Documents of the Canadian Constitution. 
Toronto, 1918. Pp. xxxii, 708. 

McGregor (John) — British America. Edinburgh, 1832. 2 vols. 

MacMullen (John) — History of Canada. Brockville, 1868. Pp. 
xxxi, 614. 

Magrath (T. W.) — Authentic Letters from Upper Canada, edited 
by Rev. T. Radcliff. Dublin, 1833. Pp. 334. 

Mavor (James) — An Economic History of Canada (ms.). 

Shirreff (Patrick) — A Tour through North America. Edinburgh, 

1835. Pp. V, 474. 

Stewart (Frances) — Our Forest Home. Toronto, 1889. Pp. 210, xi. 

Thompson (Samuel) — Reminiscences of a Canadian Pioneer. 
Toronto, 1884. Pp. 392. 

Traill (Catherine Parr) — The Backwoods of Canada. London, 

1836. Pp. viii, 351. 

Wallace (W. S.) — The Family Compact. (Chronicles of Canada 
Series) Toronto, 1915. Pp. xii, 172. 





For the better understanding of the letters which 
follow, it seems desirable to put together information 
derived from writers of the period and other sources 
which will help us to realize what Upper Canada was 
like in 1833, when John Langton came to the country. 

About that time the idea of emigration to Canada 
had taken hold of young men in England and Scotland. 
Land o^wTiership was the lure. The Canadian Govern- 
ment had spread its advertisements in the old country 
offering free land to some and cheap land to all ; and 
land was still the Englishman's idea of property. For 
a few hundred pounds to own as many acres as his 
ancestors seemed a great chance to many a young man 
for whom there was but little chance at home. AVhen 
the purchase of a few hundred acres of uncleared land 
was made, the family at home spoke of it as an estate. 

It did not take long to convince immigrants of this 
type that an estate in Upper Canada was not the same 
sort of thing as an estate in England. Even those who 
realized that the value of the Canadian estate lay in the 
future felt little ground for satisfaction, for there was 
not much promise of prosperity in sight in Upper 
Canada. The current conditions were crude, and there 
seemed to be no machinery for improving them. The 
country was too exclusively agricultural ; property con- 
sisted mainly of land. There was great need of indus- 


tries as well; both to make employment for some of 
the immigrants who were better suited for that kind 
of life, and also to provide commodities within the 
country, so that the inhabitants need not buy every- 
thing from Great Britain and the United States.* 
Capital was needed to promote such industries, but 
there was no capital in the country in large amounts, 
that is to say there Avere no capitalists ; and there were 
not enough banks to make available for such purposes 
the reserves of money that immigrants brought with 
them, which in the aggregate must have amounted to 
large sums. In the year 1831-32 there were 300,000 
sovereigns deposited in the Bank of Upper Canada by 
new arrivals.! This bank, which was then the only 
bank, was said by William Lyon Mackenzie in an article 
in his Colonial Advocate to be '' virtually under the 
control of the executive;" and in the same article he 
charges the government with discouraging manufac- 
tures, **as interfering with the main object of a colony, 
to \\dt, the promotion of the trade, and enlargement of 
the patronage of the mother country." "Whether this 
charge was true or not, it is a fact, as has been pointed 
out by Professor Mavor,t that the immediate conse- 
quence of responsible government, when it came, was 
the industrialization of the province. In the meantime 
conmiodities were imported; and the specie that for 
this purpose flowed out of the country into the United 
States, or flowed out of the province to Montreal and 
Quebec in payment for British goods, did not return. 
The only thing Upper Canada had to sell was flour, 
pork and other produce; of which things the United 

* Mavor, An Economic History of Canada (ms.) 

t Magrath, Authentic Letters from Upper Canada, p. 128. 

% Op. cit. 


States had a superabundance and Lower Canada had 
enough.* Upper Canada was therefore reduced to the 
primitive condition of exchange by barter ; a cumbrous 
process, which must have made saving difficult or im- 
possible, and was credited by Homson with relaxing 
the moral fibre of both parties in a transaction. The 
articles exchanged had not a fixed value like money. 
The value of a farm labourer's monthly wage of thir- 
teen or fourteen bushels of wheat (the equivalent of 
£3, the monthly wage of a man)t depended upon the 
quality of the wheat, and also, no doubt, upon conditions 
of storage, transport and the character of the farmer 
from whom it was due. It was the business of the 
store-keeper to secure his owai position by rating the 
value of the wheat as low as possible, while the labour- 
er's duty to his wife and family required him in self- 
defence to exaggerate its value. To get the advantage 
in a barter acquired thus a character of right -doing, 
which caused Howison to despair of the honesty of 
Canadians. And if in private transactions it was 
thought no harm to "take advantage," much less was 
it wrong to cheat the government in the matter of 
taxes; for these had to be paid in specie which it was 
not in mortals to command. Even the assessors lost 
their strictness in the face of an insurmountable dif- 
ficulty, t All this was of course a great hindrance to 
progress in the country. On the whole the producer 
suffers most in a system of barter, and agricultural 
improvements which required the purchase of equip- 
ment were indefinitely delayed. The farmer's motto, 
''Never buy anything, no matter how necessary it is," 
must have originated at this time. 

* Howison, Sketches of Upper Canada, p. 127. 
t Ibid. p. 249. 
t Ibid. p. 236. 


As bad a handicap to the farmer, or worse, was the 
state of the roads. The only available material for 
making roads, as for everything else, was wood, which 
did not last long. The roads were soon an alternation 
of degenerate corduroy and mud-holes up to the axle. 
If the gaps in the corduroy were less than the diameter 
of the front wheel, it was possible to go on, by lower- 
ing gently each pair of wheels in turn into the gap and 
pulling them gently out again. If the gaps in the cor- 
duroy were too great, there was nothing for it but to 
fell a tree and fill the gaps — ^no one travelled \\T.thout 
his axe. Sometimes Mrs. Jameson found that the 
mudholes were made less abysmal by boughs of oak 
spread over them ; which answered the iimnediate pur- 
pose but were apt to prove a trap for those who came 

There is no easier way of sinking money in a new 
country than in making roads and keeping them in 
repair, and the credit of Canada (then, as Professor 
Mavor says, "a remote and little known colony") was 
not strong; but Mackenzie in the Colonial Advocate 
thought something should have been done. "Our 
roads", he said, "are in general in a wretched condi- 
tion, and the situation of many of the back settlers so 
miserable as to render them objects of pity and com- 
miseration in the eyes of any government other than 
a colonial one." The natural waterways of the coun- 
try were, of course, a great advantage, and the "Welland 
Canal was already built. The Rideau Canal was also 
finished in 1831, but its purpose was military rather 
than conmiercial. The only other effort then being 
made in the way of impro\dng the water conununica- 
tion of Upper Canada was the construction of locks at 

* Jameson, Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, Vol. II, p. 119. 


Bobcaygeon, mentioned in these letters and interesting 
as a first instalment of the Trent Valley Canal which, 
after eighty-four years, we have seen completed in 

Of railways nobody yet thought. It does not seem 
to have occurred to the writer of these letters or to 
others at that time, that there was any mode of trans- 
port in prospect for Canada better than canals con- 
necting the great lakes. Yet in 1837, four years after 
his arrival, he writes that Michigan, just made a State, 
was incurring a debt of $5,000,000 to connnence con- 
structing three great railroads from one end of the 
State to the other. He says, however, — ' ' This system 
of going ahead seems to have answered in the States, 
but I doubt whether there is sufficient spirit amongst 
us to carry the system through. ' ' 

The contrast with the United States was always in 
the minds of people in those days. It was only neces- 
sary to cross the border into the United States to see 
bustle and progTess in the place of the apparent stag- 
nation of Canada, and it was natural to attribute the 
difference in the life of the two countries to the dif- 
ference in the forms of government. Thus, as AY. L. 
Grant says,* "A desire for American institutions grew 
up — that it did not grow more widely is the remarkable 
thing." There was, of course, plenty of prejudice 
against republicanism among the U. E. Loyalists, who 
had inherited an abhorrence of the United States gov- 
ernment ; and there was also, quite apart from political 
feeling, a general dislike of the ''Yankees," as they 
were always called, who had migrated to Canada. 
These had come over in large numbers. They did not 
usually take up land. They preferred some occupation 

* History of Canada, p. 194. 


in which their hands were nearer the pockets of the 
public. To keep a store or a tavern suited them best. 
We can imagine the opportunities afforded to a sharp 
storekeeper in the bartering period when, as Howison 
says, with a sympathy somewhat more than generous, 
"the merchants are obliged to impoverish and oppress 
the people by exorbitant charges." Of the American 
tavern-keepers, the testimony of all travellers is the 
same ; as little acconmiodation as possible was given, 
and that with the rudest of manners. The truth is that 
these Americans were adventurers and had the spirit 
of adventurers rather than of citizens. A travelling 
American clockmaker, to whom Mrs. Traill complained 
of the manners of his countrj^men, explained the mat- 
ter by saying that the Americans in Canada ''were for 
the most part persons of no reputation, many of 
whom had fled to the Canadas to escape from debt or 
other disgraceful conduct; and added, 'It would be 
hard if the English were to be judged as a nation by 
the contacts of Botany Bay.' "* 

Such being the character of the "Yankees" in Upper 
Canada, they served a useful purpose to those who 
preferred the British character, as warnings that it 
might be safer to plod on with their country as it was, 
and hope for improvement. The backwardness of 
Canada was, as a matter of fact, due chiefly to the form 
of government ; but only one change was needed — 
an executive which was responsible to the electors — 
to make the form of government as practical as that 
of the United States for the development of the coun- 
try. To do this was really impossible so long as the 
Colonial Office was considered to be the ultimate auth- 
ority for all acts of government. The corpus of the 

* Traill, Backwoods of Canada, p. 293. 


Government of Upper Canada* consisted of, first, the 
Lieutenant Governor, appointed by the Crown, i.e., the 
Colonial Office ; secondly an Executive Council of seven, 
of which three members, the Chief Justice of Upper 
Canada, the Bishop of Quebec, and the Archdeacon of 
York, were ex-officio, and four were the direct ap- 
pointment of the Lieutenant Governor; thirdly, a 
Legislative Council of seventeen members "sum- 
moned" by the Lieutenant Governor and his Execu- 
tive; and, fourthly, a Legislative Assembly of fifty 
members representing counties and towns. 

The Executive Council were only advisers of the 
Lieutenant Governor, not a cabinet responsible to the 
representatives of the people ; and the Lieutenant Gov- 
ernor was only the local ad\'iser of the Colonial Office. 
As Lord Durham afterwards said,t the Lieutenant 
Governor did not even really represent the Crown ; he 
was merely a subordinate of the British executive 
receiving his orders from the Secretary of State, and 
responsible to him for his conduct. However, "the 
Governor", as he is always called in these letters, 
though but a subordinate of the Colonial Office, was 
the subordinate on the spot, and, in his owai sphere, 
seems to have been a some^\'hat despotic person. His 
accredited functions gave him much political power in 
the way of the appointment and control of legislators 
and the occasions of their meeting, but he exercised 
also much influence apart from the law. Sir John Col- 
borne, who was the Governor in 1833, was trying to 
steer settlers towards the lands of the Canada Com- 
pany. His visit later to the settlement on Sturgeon 

* The Constitutional Act of 1791 is the principal source of infor- 
mation for the following paragraphs on this subject, 
t Lord Durham's Report. 


Lake (the settlement with which these letters are 
chiefly concerned), and his approval of what he saw, 
raised high hopes in the young men of the lake that he 
would help their fortunes. They wanted settlers to be 
sent to their district, and they knew the Governor 
could send them. 

With all these powers and activities the Governor 
had no deciding power in legislation. An Act to which 
he had given his assent had still to be approved by the 
Colonial Office, and two years were allowed for the 
officials there to make up their mind about it and sub- 
mit it to the Sovereign -w-ith their opinion. When ac- 
cepted or rejected, the Governor was notified of the 
result, and proclaimed the Act to be law or nullified it, 
as the case might be. This was a slow process for a 
growing country; but those days were slow to an 
extent that we have difficulty in imagining. There was 
no means of communication except by mail or mes- 
senger, over such roads as we have just been consider- 
ing. There must have been a certain amount of liveli- 
ness along "the front," as the shores of the great lakes 
were called. Shirreff speaks of steamers, in York 
harbour, arriving and departing almost hourly*. That, 
of course, would be only in the sunmier, and behind the 
front there was nothing of the kind; life was remote, 
solitary and slow. The great rebellion of 1837 was 
begun and finished before it was heard of in Bob- 
caygeon — now three hours away by train, less by 
motor, and only a moment by telephone. Two years 
would not therefore seem to the early settlers of Can- 
ada so long as we think it would. Nor did they think 
in the same way as we should of their position of 
dependence on the will of the home government. Gov- 

* A Tour through North America, p. 105. 


eminent by the governed was not an idea of the popu- 
lar mind ; and perhaps it was as well, for not only was 
the popular mind not very well educated just then — 
'^Mr. B. a native Canadian" told Mrs. Jameson that 
not one person in seventy, in the back townships, could 
read or write* — ^but it was also somewhat disordered 
in its thinking by arrival in a new country where 
every man could become a landed proprietor ; that is to 
say, according to the inmiigrants' old-world ideas, a 
member of a privileged class. There are numberless 
stories of the disturbing effect of this supposed sudden 
rise in the world. Sir John Beverley Kobinson, the 
Chief Justice of Upper Canada at this time, was prob- 
ably right in his generation in sayingf that it was un- 
safe to trust the government of the country to the 
unskilled and ill-educated rabble, easily led by dema- 
gogues who in those days were republican enthusiasts, 
and were the more dangerous because, though the 
majority of the country were loyal to the rather trying 
home government, they were indifferent to public 
affairs, and anxious only to attend to their business. 

There was a recognizable official class, mainly but 
not entirely of U. E. Loyalist descent, who were of the 
same way of thinking as the Chief Justice. They ac- 
cepted the offices of government as theirs, and with 
them the emoluments thereof; but they accepted also 
the duties of office, and one of the duties was to guard 
the country from less honourable men. Like Sir John 
Beverley Robinson they feared the multitude. They 
were the aristocrats but they were not wealthy ; and it 
is to their credit that no accusation has been made of 
their using the power in their hands to enrich them- 

* Op. cit. I, 34. 

t Grant, op. cit., p. 185. 


selves.* This influential circle, as described in nar- 
ratives of visitors to Canada in the thirties, seems to 
have practised English social distinctions in an ac- 
centuated form,t as if they were afraid of the relaxing 
influence of a new country. Mrs. Jameson said, "Tor- 
onto is like a fourth or fifth rate provincial tov\m, with 
the pretensions of a capital city."1: She found there 
''the worst evils of our old and most artificial social 
system, with none of its agremens, and none of its 
advantages. ' ' 

Her account of Toronto, as it had come to be called 
shortly before she arrived there, is as it appeared in 
vv-inter — "Most strangely mean and melancholy. A 
little ill-built town on low land, at the bottom of a 
frozen bay, with one very ugly church, mthout tower 
or steeple; some government offices, built of staring 
red brick, in the most tasteless, vulgar style imagin- 
able; and the grey, sullen, v\intry lake, and the dark 
gloom of the pine forest bounding the prospect; such 
seems Toronto to me now. "§ The tall pine forest and 
sullen lake were vdsible boundaries : it was a small 
place. Mrs. Stewart** describes it as "sunk down in a 
little amphitheatre cut out of the great, bleak forest." 
Samuel Thompson writing of its dimensions when he 
arrived there, in September, 1833tt describes it as an 
oblong bounded by Queen, King, Y'ork and Church 
Streets. South of King Street was the Bay, bordered 
by trees on a reedy shore and echoing to the sound of 
the duck-shooter's gun. There was not much move- 
ment or life in the streets. There were some good 

* Wallace, The Famihi Compact, pp. 2-3 and 95. 

t Grant, op. cit., p .194. 

tOp. cit. I, 100. 

§ Ihid. I, 2. 

** Stewart, Our Forest Home, p. 13. 

tt Thompson, Reminiscences, p. 39. 


shops, and a market frequented by the smaller house- 
holders. People of means, Mrs. Jameson says,* were 
supplied from their o^\^l farms or by arrangement 
with people they knew or employed. The only market 
vegetable was potatoes. Beef, mutton and pork were 
there — not good, Mrs. Jameson says, except the pork 
which was corn fed. They had, however, fish all the 
winter as well as in summer ; black bass and whitefish, 
caught through holes in the ice. There were sea salmon 
in the lakes in those days, as far up as the Falls of 
Niagara. T. W. Magrath, who lived at Erindale, on 
the Credit River, about nine miles west of Toronto, 
caught salmon within twenty yards of his front door, 
*'as fine as I ever met in Ireland, as firm and full of 
curd as -wdthin ten miles of the sea instead of five 
hundred". Game was alwa^^s to be had; venison and 
wild fowl of many kinds ; ducks and geese, partridge, 
snipe and woodcock. Quail were also then caught in 
inunense numbers, near Toronto. The passenger 
pigeons still came in undiminished numbers. They 
are mentioned more than once in these letters. They 
seem to have compared with the locust of the east in 
destructiveness. Howison records! that in Ohio, 
where they were more numerous than in Canada, 
''Wilson, the ornithologist, saw a flock of these birds 
which extended, he judged, more than a mile in breadth, 
and continued to pass over his head at the rate of one 
mile in a minute during four hours, thus making the 
whole length about 240 miles. ' ' 

Among the shops were two book shops; one with a 
circulating library. There would be nothing very new 
to be found in them, for books published in Engla nd 

* Op. cit. I, 267. 
t Op. cit., p. 175. 


took two years to reach Toronto*. People who did 
read, in those days, were not so much on the look-out 
for new books as we are. The small fry of literature 
had hardly made their appearance. It was le^^athans 
like Scott and Byron who wrote the best sellers; and 
Fenimore Cooper's works (alluded to in these letters) 
represented the exciting type of novel. A gentleman's 
library contained chiefly standard works, and probably 
a bookseller's stock was mostly of this kind. If a 
Toronto bookseller was asked for a book that was not 
in stock he always said, according to Mrs. Jameson, 
''that it could be sent for to Buffalo. "t In Buffalo, 
w^hich had then a population of 20,000, about tw^ce that 
of Toronto, she found several good bookshops. 

For current reading matter there were chiefly the 
American reprints of English magazines. There were 
also the newspapers; not containing much news but 
filled chiefly vrith paragraphs on subjects of general 
interest copied from English and American papers, 
with extracts from books and magazines and a sum- 
Tna,ry of political events, t There were about forty 
newspapers in Upper Canada, § but there was not much 
more to be learned from the whole forty than from one, 
for they had a way of copying from one another the 
passages which were copied in the first place. The 
newspapers were mostly weeklies. There was no 
daily paper until, in 1836, the Royal Standard was 
published in Toronto.** 

There must have been some leaven of learning in the 
society of York, because of the presence of King's 

* Jameson, op. cit. I, 27. 

ilbid. II, 81. 

t Ibid. I, 271-2. 

§ Ibid. I, 272. 

** Grant, op. cit. p. 180. 


College and Upper Canada College. The latter is 
always spoken of mth pity by visitors of those days — 
'*it does not appear that much good has yet arisen 
from it," it had ''a system of education which appears 
narrow and defective"* — but it was staffed by gradu- 
ates of Oxford and Cambridge. King's College, 
J^^hough its charter dates from 1827, was not active 
"imtil, in 1843, it became the University of Toronto. 
The President of King's College was Archdeacon 
Strachan, an old schoolmaster, and no doubt a man of 
learning. Mrs. Jameson says that Archdeacon 
Strachan and Chief Justice Robinson had ''very 
pretty libraries."! 

For the greater part of Toronto society, books were 
probably not so important as other things. We have a 
record of the conversation at a social gathering, t The 
ladies' topics were: — marriages and births, lamenta- 
tions on want of servants and state of the roads, last 
letters from England, character of new neighbours 
come to settle. The gentlemen 's topics were : — crops 
and clearings, lumber, price of wheat, road mending, 
deer shooting, logburning, etc., and any man's heart 
must go out to them with envy. This conversation, it 
is true, was held at Woodstock not at Toronto; but 
Woodstock was a stronghold of the well-to-do English 
immigrants. It was there that Admiral Van Sittart 
had his house ; a log house of many additions, extend- 
ing over the ground in all directions and looking, it 
was said, more like an African village than a house; 
but inside it was full of oh jets d'art from Italy. 

Whatever the character of their conversation, people 
saw much of one another in those days. Even in the 

* Jameson, Op. cit. I, 27. 
t Ibid. I, 271. 
t Ibid. II, 129. 


backwoods there was constant exercise of hospitality, 
and little was thought of distance or difficulty. People 
were knoA^Ti to come to a ball at Government House, 
Toronto, from distances of fifty, a hundred and even 
two hundred miles.* The young men on Sturgeon 
Lake, with whom these letters are concerned, would go 
down to a ball at Peterborough, over thirty miles away 
by water, and when they had danced all night, to let 
the ladies have daylight for their drive home, would 
row back next day to their farms. The lack of good 
servants, or of any servants, was made up for by the 
willingness of the guests to help in the preparations 
for the feast. The afternoon might be spent in useful 
occupation; the ladies very busy in the kitchen, while 
the young men painted a boat before the windows 
within the range of conversation as well as of sight; 
and at the proper time all Avithdrew, to come together 
again at table, clean, and on special occasions in even- 
ing dress. 

The lack of servants was a serious trouble, perhaps 
greater in the to"s\ms than upon the farms. The daugh- 
ter of a small settler was often available for domestic 
service with a richer neighbour, when she was not 
wanted at home ; but such service was apt to be fluctu- 
ating. In the towns the persons offering for domestic 
service were chiefly the lower class of Irish immigrants 
who, having been accustomed only to want and dirt, 
were not of much use for producing cleanliness and 
comfort. The wages at the house of Vice-Chancellor_ 
Jameson were $8 a month for the man, $6 for the cook, 
and $4 for the housemaid ; but Mrs. Jameson says that 
good, experienced servants would get more.f People, 

* Jameson, op. cit. I, 292. 
t Ibid. I, 260. 


however, emigrated to make their fortunes, not to 
become domestic servants. Moreover, that condition 
had more the appearance of servitude in this wonder- 
ful new land where people were addressed as "sir" 
or spoken of as "gentlemen," and where no well 
dressed person expected less well dressed persons to 
touch their hats when speaking to him. This equality 
of consideration, if not actually confused with equality 
of position, seemed to indicate its near approach and 
bred disinclination to any kind of domestic service, 
where the distinction between him that serveth and him 
that sitteth at meat is well defined. 

We hear from all travellers of the rude manners 
adopted by the newly arrived in this free country ; by 
Scots and Irishmen particularly, less so by the Eng- 
lish. Howison* tells of two Scotchmen whom he saw 
in Montreal just after their arrival in Canada, and 
saw again in Kingston not long after. At Montreal 
they took off their hats ; at Kingston they nodded with 
easy familiarity. On the latter occasion he addressed 
them by their Christian names as to their prospect of 
getting employment. "This gentleman," said one, 
pointing to his companion who was a bricklayer, "has 
been offered four shillings a day at Prescott, but his 
good lady does not like the place." Mrs. Traill has a 
similar story in her Backivoods of Canada.f The 
exhibit in this case was a young Scotchman, engineer 
of a steamer, who was "surly and almost insolent" 
when Lieut. Traill asked him to explain the working 
of the engine. Instead of doing as he was asked he 
seated himself on the bench, close beside Mrs. Traill, 
and explained to her that one of the advantages of this 

* Op. cit., p. 62. 
t Pp. 83-85. 


country was that he was not obliged to take off his 
hat when he spoke to people ("meaning," Mrs. Traill 
says, "persons of our degree") ; and, besides, he could 
go and take his seat beside any gentleman or lady 
either, and think himself to the full as good as them. 
Mrs. Traill suggested that he over-rated the privilege, 
because he could not oblige the lady or gentleman to 
share his opinion of himself or to remain seated beside 
him — which she, rather unkindly, did not. Lieutenant 
Traill then took up the conversation and, -without giv- 
ing ground, managed to convince the man that he 
might explain the working of his engine without losing 
tlie fruits of emigration. ' ' What makes a gentleman 1 ' ' 
said the man in the course of the argument, "I'll 
thank you to answer me that." "Good manners and 
good education," was the reply; "A rich man, or a 
high born man, if he is rude, ill-mamiered, and ignor- 
ant, is no more a gentleman than yourself." The 
interest of this story lies almost as much in the Traills' 
unhesitating confidence of their superiority as in the 
man's misconception of his position. Oil was oil and 
water was water in those days ; and not only could the 
two never mix but one lay naturally on top of the other ; 
so naturally that, though social degrees play often an 
important part in fiction of the period, they do not 
seem to be noticed by the writers as any more peculiar 
than that the sun should shine by day and the moon by 
night. It is, curiously enough, from narratives of life 
in this country, where the process of emulsification had 
begun, that Ave realize best what the old order of things 
must have been in England. 

This exaggerated idea of the privileges of the new 
country was chiefly noticeable among new-comers. 
Those who got settled on the land soon found that the 


landed proprietor's principal privilege was to be 
never out of work. We hear no more of them then as 
theorists. Howison says, "A deliberate inspection of 
a new settlement sinks man lower in the estimation of 
the observer than perhaps ever before". There is a 
general agreement among writers about the squalid 
appearance of the new settlers' dwellings; and the 
women writers agree in wondering that there were no 
flowers about the loghouses. The same people, they 
said, if they had remained at home, would have had 
gardens full of flowers. This may be accounted for 
partly by the way things grow in England, and by the 
force of habit and local rivalry. These were wanting 
in the backwoods ; but other things were wanting too — 
seeds, for instance. Yankee seeds, in sealed packets 
only opened when paid for, were found to contain chaff, 
empty husks, and worm-eaten seeds.* There is no oc- 
casion, however, to go deep in considering the matter. 
The shanties displayed no care because the occupants 
had no time or strength for care. A new clearing was 
a desolate place for the first year or two. It produced 
no food, and, if the settler had no money, he had to 
hire himself out to get some in order to maintain his 
family. There were no animals; for cows, pigs and 
fowls must eat also. There were some hard years to 
be got through before a living was assured; but the 
very poor, for whom the early years were hardest, 
were those who in the end profited most by emigration. 
They had usually the sense to see their future and hold 
on until their farm produced enough to give them a 
constant round of plain living. With food, warmth 
and shelter, they had all they could have hoped for in 
the old world; and independence too. Many went 
* Traill, op. cit., p. 179. 


under, chiefly from taking up too much land. It was. 
cheap, about fifteen shillings an acre, and only a quar- 
ter of the purchase price must be paid dowm. The rest 
was payable in three equal annual pajnuents with in- 
terest at six per cent., which might accumulate. When 
it was allowed to do so, the case, for a man of no 
capital, was usually hopeless. In three years he could 
only clear about thirty acres, which, counting out the 
stumps, did not give more than twenty acres available 
for crops. A return of ten shillings an acre, i.e., £10 
from the farm, was as much as could be expected, and 
the interest on the debt would be about the same.* 

Another class of immigrants consisted of persons 
having a small income, among whom were many half- 
pay British officers. Their income was not enough for 
bringing up their families In England in a way they 
thought proper, but it enabled them to live with con- 
siderable comfort on a Canadian farm. They could 
not make the farm add to their income because of the 
cost of labour ; but, if they had chosen their land well 
and it rose in value as the country became more set- 
tled, they were often able, when the education of their 
children became an anxiety, to sell with advantage and 
move into one of the towns. 

The small towns of this period had often a pleasant 
social circle, recruited from this class of immigrants. 
Most of the principal towms, in the part of Ontario that 
was then Upper Canada, were by this time in existence. 
Kingston, though its population was less than 5,000, 
was in some respects a rival of York. In 1825 it was 
reckoned the largest town in Upper Canada. It was 
the naval and military depot at one end of the Rideau 
Canal, and had a branch of the Bank of Montreal, the 

* See ShirreflF's account of the settlers' problem, op. cit., p. 363.. 

Peterborough from the West 
A water colour by Anne Langton 


onlj'^ bank in the province besides the Bank of Upper 
Canada at Toronto. Hamilton, as the capital of the 
Gore district, was flourishing, with a population of 
3,000. St. Catharines had salt works and was the 
place of origin of the Welland Canal. London had a 
population of only 1,300, when Mrs. Jameson was there 
in 1836, but it had about 200 houses, a jail and court 
house, described as ''somewhat Gothic," five churches, 
three or four schools and seven taverns. 

The towTi upon which we must concentrate atten- 
tion, in an introduction to the letters which follow, 
is Peterborough. Shirreff, whose Tour through North 
America was published in the very year these letters 
begin, does not speak of it with much respect. He 
describes it as "a number of mean houses, scattered 
over a considerable extent of surface." The popula- 
tion was placed at 1,000 souls, though Shirreff would 
not have rated it so high. He adds that it was "said 
to contain a number of military and naval half -pay of- 
ficers of Britain, and the society to be the most polished 
jand aristocratic in Canada."* It was called Peter- 
borough after Mr. Peter Robinson ( a brother of the 
Chief Justice, then Attorney General), w^ho, in 1825, 
went to Cork and brought out 500 emigrants to settle 
in Douro, and appears to have stayed by them and 
acted as their guardian and adviser until they were 
settled. At this time, Mrs. Stewart says,t there was 
but one inhabitant of Peterborough, Adam Scott, who 
had a mill on "the Plains;" so the Irish immigrants, 
who squatted at first on the Plains while their shanties 
in Douro were being built, were the first population of 
the place. Yet in 1832, Mrs. Traill, t a year or so earlier 

* P. 123. " 

t Op. cit., p. 45. She calls him "Walter", probably an error, 
j Op. cit, p. 81. 


than SMrreff 's account, supports him when she says 
there was ^'a very genteel society, chiefly composed of 
officers and their families, besides the professional men 
and store keepers; many of the latter persons of res- 
pectable family ^and good education" — "The store 
keeper in Canada," she says, ''holds a very different 
rank from the shopkeeper of the English village. The 
storekeepers are the merchants and bankers of the 
places in which they reside." In 1832, the year before 
these letters begin, there were* "several saw and grist 
mills, a distillery, fulling mill, two principal inns, be- 
sides smaller ones, a number of good stores, a govern- 
ment school house, which also serves for a church, till 
one more suitable should be built ' ' — which happened in 
1836, when St. John's was completed.f 

* Ibid., p. 89. 

t Stewart, op. cit., p. 94. 

The Adventvke 

OF Settlinq 

LETTERS OF 1833 AND 1834 

[The account of the sea voyage in a sailing ship is 
interesting, but not a necessary part of a backwoods 
record. No more perhaps is a description of New 
York, as it was on July 6th, 1833, but the description is 
interesting and short.] 

The Bay is certainly very pretty, but nothing like 
that of Naples to which the Yankees like to compare it. 
The town — or rather city — is striking from its con- 
trast to any other great seaport I know. Very little 
bustle is seen in the streets, and none of those heavy 
waggons we are accustomed to at Liverpool. The 
streets all over the town, even those leading to the 
docks, are lined with trees, which, together with the 
quietness of the scene, give it more the appearance of 
a country town in England than the great Emporium of 
the west. The Broadway, the principal street, leads 
from the Battery gardens (a pretty vralk which oc- 
cupies the point fronting the harbour) for at least one 
and a half miles through the center of the town; it is 
an excellent street, full of very English-looking shops, 
and is the most busy part of the town, but it is the 
business of Bond Street, not of Cheapside. 

7th. Being Sunday, went to one of the Episcopalian 
churches and might have fancied myself in England 
again, excepting the perpetual waving, which was kept 
up all the time, of certain — fans I suppose they are 
called here; they would be called fire screens in Eng- 
land — which are an inseparable accompaniment of the 



ladies in this country. I must also except the want of 
the true orthodox twang in the Clerk. 

[The journey from New Y^ork was by the Hudson — 
*'a magnificent stream about as like the Rhine as St. 
Paul's is to Westminster Abbey — but the Y'ankees, if 
they hear of anything praiseworthy in another country, 
must find a counterpart in their o^\^i." He went to 
Troy, a twenty-four hours journey, and thence by the 
Erie Canal to Oswego. As "the weekly Steamboat had 
sailed for Y'ork" (i.e., Toronto) "that morning" pas- 
sage was taken by schooner to Cobourg, whence steam- 
boats to Y'ork were said to be frequent. This accident 
seems to have governed his fate for he was detained at 
Cobourg waiting for a steamer and heard there a good 
account of the district above Peterborough, what we 
call the Kawartha Lakes, then_known _as_th,e_New- 
castle District.] 

I have determined [he says] upon leaving my bag- 
gage here, and going up the country myself to Peter- 
borough, the Sturgeon Lake and the towmship of 
Verulam before I go on to Y'ork. From all I can hear 
here from residents and land hunters like myself that I 
have met with, that will be the part of the country most 
likely to suit me; and as this is the nearest to^vn to 
those townships, I shall start at four to-morrow and 
walk to the Rice Lake, whence I can proceed by steam to 
Peterborough; anything beyond that depends on 
circumstances. In about ten days I propose being in 

[From Y'ork, on his return from the expedition to 
Peterborough and beyond, he writes an account of it, 
the first of a series of letters which form a connected 













. .<■ 


^ - I 

■ 4' -^ s 



To HIS Father 

York, U.C., Aug. 2, 1833 

Having a couple of hours before dinner with nothing 
particular to do, I have bought a large sheet of paper 
that my account of my adventures may not unneces- 
sarily fatigue your eyes with the small hand and the 
crossings which I was obliged to resort to in my two 
last letters.* My last from Cobourg informed you of 
my journey up the country and my proposed exploring 
expedition into the Newcastle district ; the next morn- 
ing (22nd July) accordingly I started by the stage or 
rather waggon, and after jolting over thirteen miles of 
mud and stumps arrived to dinner on the Rice Lake, 
which, as its name would denote, is a low, muddy, 
swampy, aguish looking place, covered over with Can- 
adian rice and other aquatic weeds. From thence I 
proceeded twenty-five miles by steamer up the Otona- 
bee to Peterborough, where, having gone to the wrong 
hotel, I occupied one eleventh of seven beds. 

The Otonabee (with the accent on the second syl- 
lable) is a fine river, winding through the forests, and 
perfectly navigable up to Peterborough, with the ex- 
ception of one rapid a little below the town, where even 
the steamer had to assist herself by warping. The banks 
are very low% and immediately upon the water (as is 
the case in Canada universally wherever I have been) 

* Letters in those days were charged postage by the sheet. As 
envelopes were not used, but the paper merely folded and sealed, 
the number of sheets was distinguishable by the postman. A 
single sheet of paper, not exceeding an ounce in weight, was 
charged single postage. A second piece of paper or any other 
enclosure, however, small, constituted the packet a double letter. 
But a single sheet of paper, if it at all exceeded an ounce in 
weight, was charged with four fold postage. As postage was 
paid by the recipient of the letter, the reasons given for using 
the large sheet of paper are of the nature of an apology. 


not very good ; further back however there is no cause 
for complaint. All the lands have long been taken up 
and fetch a high price, but there are not more than half 
a dozen clearings all the way. I take shame to myself 
for having omitted to mention that, at the two prin- 
cipal bends of the river there are two cities, Camble- 
ton* and Howard ; the one consisting of a shanty, and 
the other of a loghouse without windows. 

The 23rd. I was up early, and walked about the 
town and neighbourhood, w^hich seems very thriving; 
indeed, from its being the center of an immense inter- 
nal navigation, and from its being the only inland town 
in Canada, its inhabitants would fain believe that it 
will one day become the capital of the province. 

Land in the neighbourhood has become very dear; 

the last town lot of half an acre sold, fetched £50; and, 

on the opposite side of the river, one lot of half an 

acre, being in a beautiful situation for building, sold 

for £100. All the low land on the banks of the river is 

reserved by Government, and the trees on it are only 

thinned, so that the to\^^l has not that naked appear- 

"^N* ance that characterizes the new towns in America. 

V Peterborough would pass for a pretty thriving town 

„"'' even in England. After breakfast I called on Col. 

Brown, who showed me the lions and introduced me to 

several gentlemen of the place ; in the evening I drank 

tea there and met ladies for the first time since leaving 

Liverpool. We walked up to Mr. Stuart's place, a 

couple of miles up the river. He was the first settler 

^,. in the neighbourhood about twelve years ago, before 

Peterborough was thought of and when it was two or 

three hard days journey from Cobourg through the 

forest. He still lives in the original loghouse, but it is 

* Campbellford. 


made as comfortable and ornamental as any cottage 
in England, and he has a fine clearing. It is Mr. 
Stuart* who wrote that account of his first settlement 
which you may remember in Basil Hall's America. 

24th. With my knapsack, a blanket, and some pork 
and biscuit upon my back, and a bottle of whiskey 
hanging John Gilpin-like at my side, I set off on my 
travels and walked through six miles of mud holes (for 
really a road is too good a name for mam' parts) to 
Chemong Lake ; the old appellation, Mud Lake, having 
lately been dropped. Here a steamboat is building 
and will ply upon the lakes in about a month; how her 
engines were ever transported through the aforesaid 
mud holes is to me a mystery.f Ha\ang borrowed a 
boat, I proceeded along the Mud Lake, which notwith- 
standing the nature of its bottom does not deserve 
the name, and reached the Indian village at its exit at 
dark; there are several clearings on Chemong Lake. 
Finding the man I was directed to absent on a hunting 
excursion, and not being able to get any answer out of 
the other Indians, I went to the schoolmaster for as- 
sistance. He gave me a supper and a clean bed, for 
which he would receive nothing, and procured me a 
guide in the person of a handsome and intelligent 
Indian.r'And now that I am fairly amongst the savages 
"you ™l perhaps expect some romantic description; 
the tomahawk and scalping knife, the chivalrous tuft 
of hair, the moccasins, the robe, the war paint and 
barbaric ornaments should all have been detailed to 
you; but imagine my disappointment at being intro- 

* Mr. Stuart is evidently Thomas Alexander Stewart, the husband 
of Frances Stewart, whose journals and letters form the book 
Our Forest Home, describing their settlement in Douro Township 
near Peterborough. 

t The writer had not yet become acquainted with the advantages 
of snow. 


I dnced to a respectable-looking young man, dressed 
/ decently like a Christian in coat, waistcoat and tron- 
/ sers, wearing a checked shirt and neckcloth, and cover- 
' ing his thick hlack hair with a common straw hat. 
This person, who o\\Tied no long unpronounceable 
\ name, but answered to the familiar appellation of 
V. Stephen Elliot, i agreed to become my conductor for $1 
a day; and accordingly, the next morning, the 25th, 
soon after sunrise, I seated myself on my pack at the 
bottom of his canoe, in company with two young foxes, 
and was paddled by Stephen and his stepson, William, 
up into Pigeon Lake. There are a few settlers on 
Pigeon Lake, but only one on the part I traversed, 
though the land is all occupied. On the river which 
joins Pigeon to Sturgeon Lake is a rapid, by name Bob 
Cajmn, where the scenery is picturesque, and (what 
is better) where there are good mill sites which Need* 
has purchased. Through these rapids a canal is in 
process of formation which, next spring, will admit the 
new steamboat upon Sturgeon Lake up to Cameron's 
Falls, t and up the Scugog River into the township 
of Ops. A little above Bob Cajwin is Need's clearing 
where I stopped, but, not finding him in, I returned 
to Capt. Sawers' at the rapids, where I found him, 
and about one o'clock made an excellent breakfast 
upon some venison he had killed that morning. At 
his shanty I slept, after looking over his clearings and 
visiting the only other settler, on the opposite side of 
the lake. 

* He had been given a letter of introduction to Mr. Need. A 
little book called Six Years in the Bush, written by Mr. Need 
in 1838, while he was in England on a visit, makes sometimes 
an interesting parallel narrative to that of these letters. In it 
Mr. Need describes his own settlement on Aug. 9, 1833. 

t Now Fenelon Falls. 


26th. At nine I embarked again and proceeded along 
Sturgeon Lake pausing occasionally as I went to look 
at desirable situations, and, about noon, arrived at 
Cameron's Falls. The river below the falls winds 
through precipitous banks on both sides, affording 
many beautiful views, until, at one turn, you find your- 
self suddenly within twenty yards of the falls. I 
apply the term precipitous according to the literal 
meaning of the word ; but the rock is hardly anywhere 
more than twenty feet high, and would hardly accord 
with our ideas of lofty precipices. The falls are a 
Niagara in miniature — just the same shape and with 
a great body of water, though only twenty-two feet 
of pitch ; it is a very beautiful spot. 

Around these falls Mr. Jameson, whom I remember 
by sight as a young man in Liverpool, has made a large 
purchase and is very active in bringing out settlers of 
the poorest sort to occupy his land. I spent an hour or 
two on the spot where he has some men clearing, but 
the greater part of the lands about seem very poor, 
the situation being the principal object. 

A little after three I embarked again, and was now 
beyond the last settlement. On the road I visited an 
old clearing which has been growai up for the last 
twenty years, where my guide's father had formerly 
lived. Whilst I was visiting his father's grave, (for 
whose sake I hope there were not as many mosquitoes 
about then as there are now) Stephen contrived to 
broach my whiskey bottle, \^^thout my knowing it ; but, 
by its diminished weight and his noisy commendations 
of my sobriety, I soon found out the fact. Indeed he 
shortly appeared to be very near drunk and grew 
very importunate for more, though much alarmed lest 
the boy should see him drink and tell his mother (a 


henpecked Indian!). When he found me firm he 
turned sulky; the consequence of which was that I 
could not get him above the rapids into Balsam Lake, 
and we were obliged to take up our abode for the night 
in a cedar swamp. Having no axe with us we could 
not obtain hard wood for our fire, and were obliged 
to be content with the dead boughs we picked up ; but, 
after we had cooked and eaten our supper, I slept very 
comfortably upon my bed of cedar branches, notwith- 
standing the attacks of the mosquitoes. 

27th. We were off again soon after daybreak, and 
breakfasted on a point near the head of Balsam Lake, 
beyond the boundaries of the surveyed townships. 
After coasting along the northern shore, as we were 
crossing to take a look at the surveyed portion below, 
a storm came on which rendered it almost impossible 
to get across in that direction, and, as I had already 
seen enough to judge of the situation, and as the wind 
was favourable for our return, I resolved to make a 
great push to reach Need's that night; and, after a 
severe daj^'s work, with the assistance of the stream 
and a blanket which we put up as a sail, we arrived 
there soon after dark, and found that, during our ab- 
sence, he had built a house. In our return we shot the 
rapids above Cameron's Falls to ^^-ithin about five 
yards of the brink ; and, after the Indians had got out, 
Stephen held the end of the canoe from the shore and 
let me down until, sitting in my canoe above, I could see 
the water boiling and foaming doA^Ti below — " a very 
pokerish looking place" as Stephen observed. 

28th. Need and I went to breakfast at Sawers' and 
about noon I started again and arrived at the Landing 
on Chemong Lake at sunset. It being near full moon, 
my desire to sleep in a comfortable bed again induced 


me to brave the mudholes, and I arrived in Peter- 
borough in safety. 

[At Peterborough he waited for a Government sale 
of lands which did not come off, but, he says, "I made 
acquaintance in the inn with several gentlemen from 
whom I obtained much information upon the country." 
The country was naturally the principal subject of con- 
versation among the land-hunters who met one another 
at the inn ; who were for the most part Englishmen of 
some education. To this must be attributed a know- 
ledge of the country, and familiarity with the pro- 
cedure necessary in purchasing land, such as one 
would not expect in letters written so soon after 

The preference for the Newcastle District was based 
upon its chain of lakes which gave promise of being a 
great water way; and water was still the only means 
of conveying goods in large quantity. The land-hunt- 
ers were therefore using good judgment according to 
their lights. It would be too much to expect that the 
writer of these letters, although he had but a short 
time before been one of the guests carried in the trial 
trip of the railroad from Liverpool to Manchester, the 
first working railroad in the world, should connect 
that experiment with the idea of a railroad running, 
about twenty years after, from one end to the other of 
the Canada of those days. He would have even less 
expected that the Trent Valley Canal, which was begun 
then in parts, and appears to have been projected in 
its entirety, would not be finished until the year 1918.] 

To-day (Aug. 2nd), after looking about the town 
[York], I waited upon the Governor [Sir John Col- 
borne] and had great difficulty in avoiding giving him 
a promise to go through the western to\\niships before 


finally settling, it being his policy at present to send 
all respectable emigrants there; but, from all I have 
heard from those who have been there, I do not think 
they would suit me, and time is too precious to waste 
in merely looking about me. The great distance of 
land carriage, the high price of labour and the want of 
water, more than compensate for the ciuality of the 
land; that, I believe, is unquestionably superior to the 
average of these districts, and it is equally good every- 
where; but there is also excellent land on the lakes, 
though you cannot, as in the west, buy land blindfold 
with security. 

There are several reasons which induce me to give a 
preference to the Newcastle district. It is the most 
English of all the districts and the society of a superior 
caste ; lands are to be purchased there cheaper than in 
any part at an equal distance from a market; there 
is not that want of water that has caused such great 
loss in many of the inland toA\iiships ; instead of being 
shut up on all sides by the forests, you may obtain a 
healthy, airy frontage to some of the numerous lakes, 
which, besides making the situation more pleasant, 
and, I should think, healthy, enables the settlers to 
burn,* when in the confined clearings in the heart of 
the forest there is not a breath of air stirring; mill 
sites are of course more numerous ; labour is cheaper ; 
and, lastly and principally, they have an extent of 
internal navigation unparalleled in any part of the 
world, I should think. 

I have annexed a diagram of part of the Newcastle 
district which may give you some idea of the lakes, 

* To burn thoroughly the heaps of green tree trunks accumulated 
in a chopped clearing was a difficult matter, and to have one 
side of the clearing open to the draught from a lake was an ad- 



which are miserably laid down in all the maps I have 
seen. Beginning at the top with Balsam Lake, two 
portages, one of three and the other of seven miles, 
connect it with Lake Simcoe from the West Bay, and 
the river to the north is navigable for canoes a long 

Un surveyed 

way, through a string of small lakes. Where there is 
the mark V there is a rapid where one lock \^dll join it 
to Cameron Lake, and just below this the Burnt River 
is navigable some way, through a rich country. Two 
locks at Cameron's Falls lead into the North Branch 


of Sturgeon Lake; the southern one is navigable 
through the township of Ops to within forty miles of 
York. One more lock at Bob Cajwin, which is to be 
completed this fall, leads into Pigeon Lake, the three 
rivers of which are navigable some way; and on, 
through Buckhorn, Sandy and Chemong Lakes, the 
passage is quite open. Six miles land carriage to 
Peterborough and thirteen to Cobourg lead you to the 
Ontario. The Trent too is navigable near twenty miles 
below" Rice Lake, and a canal of ten or fifteen more, to 
avoid the windings and rapids, will continue it on to 
the Bay of Quinte. 

After having seen these beautiful lakes, and rivers 
abounding in mill sites, who would go to settle in the 
Governor's present favourite township of Adelaide, 
where cattle have been driven thirty miles to water 
and where there is near 100 miles of land carriage to a 
market — and such land carriage ! — or else the produce 
has to go treble the distance by Lake Huron and the 
dangerous navigation of Lake Erie; and, after all, 
unless you are on the Lake shore, you may have as 
much land carriage as there would be in the Newcastle 
district from Lake Simcoe to Montreal. 

To assist you in following my motions I have marked 
on the diagram : — 

a. AATiere I breakfasted on Balsam Lake. 

b. "Where I slept. 

c. Need's. 

d. The Indian village. 
The upset price of Government, as you know, is 

10/-; but I am at present partly in treaty for certain 
U. E. rights, which I can procure at 3/9 to 5/-, and, if 
I come to any arrangement upon the subject, the cost 
of my land will be materially diminished. The origin 


of these rights dates from the Revolutionary — I beg 
the Yankees ' pardon — the War of Independence ; when 
tickets for so many acres were given to the United 
Empire Loyalists, as they were called, for their ser- 
"vices, and to their children afterwards. Thousands of 
these rights have been bought up and settled, the 
price in the olden time being somewhere about 5d. or 
^d. per acre, and some few yet remain unlocated. The 
cause of their being so much lower in price than gov- 
ernment land is, that, by the grants, they must be 
settled and ten per cent, cleared in two years, which 
keeps the speculators in a great measure from pur- 
chasing them. A similar condition is annexed to the 
other lands indeed, but Government is not very strict, 
except in the case of tliese rights, against the transfer 
of which they set their faces as much as possible ; to an 
actual settler, however, such a condition is of no 

The mode of location is this: — I go to the Govern- 
ment office, and, upon showing my title, put do's\Ti the 
name of my loyalist upon any unoccupied lot I please ; 
and, upon having fulfilled the conditions, I obtain nty 
patent. The titles consist of the original certificates 
and two Powers of Attorney; the one authorizing me 
to locate his right where I please, and the other to sell 
it or do otherwise with it as I think fit. Sometimes, but 
not often, a little difficulty occurs in taking out the 
patents; as in a case at present before the Govern- 
ment. A man located a lot in the name of "William 
Smith; but as it appears that, out of the three William 
Smiths remaining upon the list, two forfeited their 
rights in the late war. Government decline giving the 
patent until it is proved which is the true Simon Pure ; 
which may be somewhat difficult, since all the three 


Williams are dead. I am prepared, however, to run 
the risk, as such cases are very rare, and as it is also 
customary for the seller to enter into a bond to bear 
you harmless in case of the patent not being given, and 
my man is a very substantial and respectable man in 
the Province. Still I am not certain yet whether we 
shall agree about price, etc. ; the difficulty lying in the 
legal documents and who is to bear the expense of them. 
I shall not, I think, make any purchase at the next sale ; 
but I will attend it, at any rate, to see how things are 
going. Immediately after the sale I mean to proceed 
up the Lakes again, to inspect some of the situations 
more minutely; which I shall be able to do now, as I 
have taken a copy of the government surveys, by 
w^hich, with the assistance of a compass, I can find out 
exactly what lot I am upon — a very difficult matter 
before; and, as I shall pass through Y^ork before the 
next sale, and shall there get jiermission to look over 
the surveyor's field notes, I shall be more prepared with 
knowledge of the nature of the land I am buying than 
I can be now. 

Appendix to the letter of August 2nd dated 
August 23rd 

I must apologize in limine for the wide interval be- 
tween my two dates, but the fact is, that expecting 
soon to return, I left this letter in my trunk at 
Cobourg and have only rejoined it yesterday. >, 

I did not make any purchase at the sale of tne 6th 
inst., though there was no opposition to most of the 
bidders, and my plan of going up the lakes was de- 
layed partly by the weather and partly by the pro- 
longed absence of a certain Quaker, by name Hunter, 


who had agreed to accompany me — so we did not set 
out until the 16th. In the meantime I employed my- 
self in excursions into the country round about 
[Peterborough apparently], and in assisting my late 
Westmoreland fellow-traveller* to find a cleared farm ; 
and, when the rain confined me to the house, in reading 
certain French, German and Greek books which be- 
longed to a young man of Dublin University. 

On the 16th, Mr. Hunter and I with a Mr. McAndrew 
set off and walked eleven miles to the bottom of 
Chemong Lake where we borrowed a boat across to 
the Indian village. Xo guide, however, was to be 
procured, but we at last induced James McQue,t a 
halfbreed, the interpreter of the tribe, to take us up to 
his father's, about five miles further; but here the 
whole family were out hunting, so we finally agreed to 
borrow his canoe and paddle ourselves. I was the 
only one who had ever been in a canoe I believe, 
certainly the only one who had ever paddled, so I took 
the steering department, and with one or other of my 
companions in front we reached Bob Cajwin at sunset. 
On Pigeon Lake we had to work up against a high 
wdnd, and, as keeping a canoe steady even in a calm 
is no easy matter, I can assure you it was hard work. 
We slept at Sawers' whom we had met going dowm 
to Peterborough, and slept very comfortably upon his 
floor. 17th. We paddled across the lake to Darcos's, 
of whom we borrowed a boat, which, as it had a sail 

* A fellow-traveller on the ship, coming out. 

t This name is spelt in these letters both McQue and McGue. 
The uncertainty may have been with the copyist. The writer, 
however, in a note on these lakes, written many years later, 
spelt the name McCue. Mrs. Stewart, in Our Forest Home" 
speaks of Billy McKue. It is possible that the half-breed family 
did not spell their name at all, but caught it by ear from their 
white progenitor, and his name may have been the more usual 
one McHugh. 


and as McAndrew and I are both pretty good hands 
at an oar, was a more comfortable mode of conveyance; 
thence we crossed to Need's and borrowed an axe, and 
about ten set off up the Lake. 

The first place Ave made for was / [a place Need 
wished them to 'locate"], but notwitlistandinc: my 
compass and maps, I believe we found the wrong place ; 
however, in a mile's incursion back into the woods, we 
found nothing worth looking at, 

AVe found it almost impossible to ascertain our 
exact position, for the blazes which denote the lines of 
the lots and concessions are obliterated by time — ^if 
they were ever properly marked. We landed again to 
dinner just round Sturgeon Point, at a spring which 
the Indians had shewn me, and then crossed the Lake 
to where the word Fenelon is written, where Mr. 
Hunter has some land which he wished to look at. 
Here we spent an hour or two in the woods, and then 
made a hard push for Cameron's Falls. After having 
ascertained that the falls were even more beautiful 
than before, I conducted my companions to the shanty 
through the woods, which we found deserted ; however 
we took possession, and after considerable rummaging 
discovered a barrel of pork and of flour and a frying 
pan, in which we baked a cake ; having spread a bed of 
cedar boughs we retired to rest, and I for one knew 
nothing of the miseries of this wicked world till the 
sun had been long risen. 

18th. By nine we had breakfasted, taken a look at 
the beauties of the place, and joined our boat again 
below the falls. AVe first landed on our return at e, 
where Mr. Hunter and I made a long excursion back 
and found some excellent land, rising considerably 
though gently back from the lake, and moreover dis- 


covered the mouth of a creek which even at this season 
had plenty of water. This I determined to buy. We 
then crossed over to his land, followed up a creek there 
for about a mile through indifferent land, and having 
dined again at our spring and landed at what we be- 
lieve to be the real /, we reached Need's to sleep, and 
next day proceeded on to Peterborough. Tuesday the 
30th was the sale at which Mr. McAndrew, who will be a 
pleasant neighbour, bought land at g opposite Sturgeon 
Point, and I bought about 300 acres where the dotted 
lines are at e, including the creek, which McDonell, the 
agent at Peterborough, who knows the country well, 
tells me has a fall of 20 feet, a good mill site. This I 
certainly did not see myself, but, from the high land 
behind and the body of water in the creek, there must 
be something of the kind, though perhaps not con- 
vertible to much use for a mill, where Cameron 's Falls 
are so near. For one lot of 115 acres containing the 
creek I was bid up to 14/-, the other two of 126 and 
about 40 or 50 acres I got at 10/-. Besides this I have 
bought two U. E. rights of 200 acres each at 3/9; one 
of which I have resold at a profit of £12 10, and the 
other I have located immediately adjoining my other 
land but in the township of Verulam. If B — [a friend, 
who came out on the same ship], from whom I have 
never heard, proposes to settle beside me, he can get 
a lot on my south .... 

Now for my future plans. I am now on my road 
to York to pay my instalments, thence I go to Lake 
Simcoe to learn what B — is about, and I expect to be 
in Peterborough before the 2nd September. I shall 
then contract to have ten or fifteen acres cleared and 
ready for the crop in the spring and make another con- 
tract for a house to be built before winter and shall 


immediately go up and take possession. I mean to 
do all by contract, keeping no labourer of my own till 
spring ; the wife of one of the contractors or their men 
will be sufficient to cook and wash for me, and my own 
time will be fully taken up in superintending the work- 
men, surveying the capabilities of my land, and mak- 
ing the interior of my house comfortable after it is 
built, and beautifying the outside with something of a 
garden. The clearing, I expect, will cost me about 
twelve to fifteen dollars an acre; probably not more 
than the first sum, as a good deal of it will be paid in 
pork and flour. As to the house I cannot say what it 
will be as I hear so many opinions, and indeed have 
not yet finally settled its nature and dimensions. No 
two people give the same advice. Some say a shanty 
is good enough; others talk of log, frame, stone and 
brick houses. Franklins, cooking and connnon stoves, 
and chimneys of different constructions, have each 
their advocates. I incline myself to the regular 
routine ; a wigwam the first week ; a shanty till the log- 
house is up; and the frame, brick or stone house 
half a dozen years hence, when I have a good clearing 
and can see which will be the best situation. 

A Letter to a. Friend 

Cobourg, Aug. 23, 1833 

In conformity with my promise of writing to you as 
soon as I had fixed on the spot where I am to spend my 
life, I seize the first vacant moment since my purchase 
to inform you that on Tuesday last, the 20th Aug., be- 
tween the hours of eleven and twelve, I became, for the 
first time in my life, a Lord of the soil. 


Now look at the map of Upper Canada. Do you see 
the Bay of Quinte, upon which Kingston is situated? 
Well — the river Trent runs into this bay as you will 
see, and, if you w411 take the trouble to follow it up for 
some twenty or thirty miles (Avhich you must do on 
foot, for it is not navigable), you may then get into a 
boat and sail up into the Rice Lake. You mil admire 
it very much for the beauty of its banks and islands, 
though at this season of the year the wild rice beds give 
the lake itself more the appearance of a gTass plot than 
a sheet of water, but I would not advise you to stay 
long admiring the scenery or you will probably catch 
the ague; but go at once to the town of Sully (where 
you mil find one house), whence you may take a 
steamer which will carry you twenty-five miles up the 
river Otonabee to Peterborough. 

After the specimen of Canadian towns which you will 
have seen at Sully and at two others on the river — 
Howard containing a shanty, and Cambleton* a log- 
house \\i.thout windows — you will be surprised to find 
Peterborough a very pretty, picturesque, thriving vil- 
lage, with about 2,000 inhabitants and near thirty 
genteel families wdthin visiting distance ; but you will 
"be more surprised to find that in 1825 scarcely a dozen 
white men had ever trodden the woods where it stands. 

From hence you may continue to ascend the river 
and will enter some very beautiful lakes; but, as the 
Otonabee is scarcely navigable for canoes above the 
town, I would recommend you to turn your face to- 
wards the N.N.W., and walk six miles till you reach the 
Chemong or Mud Lake at Bridgenorth (Population 1). 
This individual will lend you a boat wiiich you may row 
five miles north to the Indian village. 

* See ante p. 6 (note). 


Of course one so well acquainted with Uncas, 
Chingachgook, Magna, etc., knows what to expect in 
his Indian guide; but, nevertheless, you will be sur- 
prised again, upon being introduced to Stephen Elliot, 
James McQue, Joe Bullfrog, Joe Muskrat or any other 
of the fraternity, to behold a handsome young man 
with long black hair, dressed respectably in hat, shirt, 
coat, waistcoat and trousers, and with all the other 
outward and visible signs of a Christian man. Even 
my most respectable friend Capt. Nogy, the chief, I 
will engage shall not at all remind 3'ou of the great 
Sagamore of the Mohicans. They are all a most 
peaceable, sober set of men; I doubt if any of them 
ever saw human blood, except old Bedford who killed 
his mfe : but that, as he says in excuse, was a long time 
since. I cannot, however, say as much for their in- 
dustry; some of them would sooner fast twenty-four 
hours than take the trouble to cook a meal. All this 
and more you will have had time to observe before any 
of the aforesaid gentlemen will have made up their 
minds whether they will take you up or not. 

However I will suppose you in a canoe, moving 
lazily up into Pigeon Lake, and thence, through the 
rapids called Bob Cajwin, into Sturgeon Lake. I forgot 
to say that at the rapids you passed the town of 
Verulam (Population 0), but on the Lake you will find 
six settlers. Certainly this is not many, but then four 
of them have been at an University, one at the military 
college at Woolwich, and the sixth, though boasting no 
such honours, has half a dozen silver spoons and a 
wife who plays the guitar. 

Now look at the map again. You will observe that 
the Sturgeon Lake runs east and west for about ten 
miles and that it then divides into two branches; the 


one running south leading into a settled township called 
Ops, the other leading north towards Cameron Lake. 
Up this last you will please to sail along the eastern 
coast for about two miles, when you will see a stony 
beach lined with cedar, hemlock, birch and pine, and 
immediately behind that the brighter foliage of the oak, 
maple and basswood. If you look very narrowly at 
this shore, in about a month, you will see a very small 
clearing, and near a brook you will perceive a wig\vam 
composed of birch bark and cedar boughs. Pray step 
on shore and walk in ; you will find an old friend who 
can at any rate promise you some salt pork and un- 
leavened bread, with a cigar and a glass of whiskey; 
and it is more than probable that a fine bass or 
maskinonge, fresh from the Lake, or a couple of wood 
ducks, as fat as ortolans, may be added to the repast ; 
who knows whether a haunch of venison or a sirloin 
of bear may not be forthcoming. A fire before the 
entrance of the wigwam will serve the treble purpose 
of giving warmth, light to eat your supper, and of 
keeping off the mosquitoes, and a bed of cedar boughs, 
with a buffalo robe for a covering, you will find no 
despicable lodging. This and a welcome is all I can 
offer you ; but in the morning I will lead you through 
the woods to see all the wonders of my estate. You 
shall behold a swamp, into w^hieh however you cannot 
penetrate till the frost gives you firm footing; you 
shall see a beautiful hill gently sloping down to 
the lake and from which there is a beautiful view 
— if the trees were out of the way — and where a 
mansion wdll some day stand; and a brook — or 
creek as we call it — which will be the site of a 
mill. Then I will take j'Ou to an old settlement of the 
Mohawks, who were massacred about fifty years ago 


by the fathers of your respectable friends Joe Muskrat, 
Joe Bullfrog, etc. After this I will paddle you in my 
canoe to Cameron Falls, about six miles off, where you 
may see Niagara in miniature ; the fall is only twenty- 
two feet high, but the body of water is very great and 
the shape exactly that of Niagara. 

Here, before winter, you may meet another Liverpool 
acquaintance. I don't know whether you knew a tall, 
short-sighted Irishman by the name of Jameson, who 
used to pull in one of the boats.* I remember him by 
sight only. He has made a very large speculation in 
land here, amongst the rest the lot in which the Falls 
are situated, and proposes building mills there. 

Beyond this all is wilderness, though the speculators 
have bought a good deal of land. Jameson, if he comes 
to settle this winter, will be both my nearest and my 
last neighbour. At present, I am the pioneer of the 
township, for, though Jameson has begun a clearing, 
it is deserted again, and I fear I shall have no one 
there till spring. But, as soon as the ice breaks up in 
the spring, a steamboat Avill pass my door, and who 
shall say that I am then beyond the precincts of 

When this steamer, which will be finished next week, 
can get through the locks now building at Bob Cajwin, 
I shall have only six miles of land carriage to Peter- 
borough, and thirteen from the Rice Lake to Cobourg, 
to bring me upon Lake Ontario. I shall then be in 
uninterrupted water communication with upwards of 
150 miles of coast, along these back lakes and rivers. 
Yet, with all these advantages, I get a block of excellent 
land, with half a mile frontage to the lake, and with a 

* At Cambridge. 


mill site* upon it, at a price averaging 8/- an acre. 
Land whicli has far less advantages is now selling at £5 
an a«re ; the verj^ mill site alone, if near Peterborough, 
would sell for much, nmch more than I gave for all 
the land. If it was near Peterborough, you will say — 
but, I answer, land near Peterborough might, three 
years ago, have been bought at even a less price ; and 
why should not land on Sturgeon Lake increase in 
value as well as on the Otonabee. Good land, in good 
situation, is now getting very scarce; and, when the 
new lands are all bought up, the old ones must rise 
rapidly in price. 

All these speculations as to the rise of land are 
entre nous; though I am convinced of the eligibility of 
my situation, I will not tallv of it till it comes to pass ; 
but bear in mind that the 16th lot in the Xth, the 
16th and 17th in the Xlth concessions of Fenelon, and 
the 17th in the 1st of Verulam, containing 500 acres, 
more or less, only cost £200, and ask five years hence 
what they are worth. 

I don't know of anything else that would prove very 
interesting to you from this quarter of the globe, lots 
and concessions being the only subject of conversation 

To HIS Mother 

Peterborough, Sept. 12, 1833 

So soon after the date of my last I do not know 
whether I should have written again if three circum- 
stances had not combined to induce me to such a step. 

First, that before the end of next week I shall be a 
dweller in the woods, and consequently, as chairs and 

* Water was still the available source of power. 


tables are scarce articles there, I may not have con- 
veniences for writing a letter for a month to come; 
secondly, that I yesterday received a letter from you; 
and lastly, that at this hour of half past ten, I find 
myself sitting by the fire with nothing to do, and I 
know, from dire experience, that, unless I sit up till one 
or two to get very, very sleepy, the fleas will have 
commenced their attacks before I get fairly asleep 
and then there will be little rest for me, for when once 
they begin they come on in such armies, that even in the 
dark I have caught a dozen or two in the course of the 

[The letter describes how, after finding that his 
friend B — was settled, the remaining days of August 
were consumed at York in waiting on the slow process 
of getting his "papers" for the land he had purchased. 
The time was partly filled in by a visit to Niagara by 
means of] a steamer which, after coasting to the head 
of the Lake and landing us for two or three hours at 
the pretty village of Hamilton, reached the to^\Ti of 
Niagara at nine o'clock, whence a stage carried us to 
the Falls, where we arrived at midnight. The inn was 
completely full and it was with difficulty I could obtain 
permission to sleep on the floor. At five o'clock I was 
up and walked down to the Tablerock, etc. [Pleasure 
seeking was laborious even then, when people were not 
in a hurry. AVe need not follow him about the Falls, 
though the description with which he "paid the forfeit 
of having seen Niagara" as it was then, has some 
historical interest. It was September 3rd before he 
got back to Peterborough.] 

Arrived at Peterborough I commenced enquiries for 
choppers, but, as no decent men could be found, I was 
advised to wait a week till the harvest was fairlv over 


and the poor settlers were ready to leave their farms 
for a winter's job. Accordingly I set out with my 
former companion McAndrew for Sturgeon Lake, in- 
tending to spend the time usefully in looking at our 
land again and fixing upon the points for building our 
bouses and conmiencing our clearings. 

September 5th. Having got my papers prepared, I 
sent them off to York and started for the Mud Lake 
which we reached just in time for our new steamer's 
first trip. Of course, on a lake on which nothing but 
Indian canoes had been heretofore seen, we could not 
expect a magnificent steamboat, but I must confess I 
was considerably disappointed with her working. She 
is built like a scow, that is, to be more intelligible to you, 
very much after the shape of a wash tub, a small 
draught being the principal object. Her accom- 
modations for passengers are by no means bad; she 
carries sixty tons of goods and can go at six or seven 
knots an hour. All this sounds very well, but un- 
fortunately her steam is exhausted directly, and I am 
afraid she will never do much good till she gets new 
boilers. However this was the first trip and we 
laboured under many disadvantages. The water is just 
at the lowest point and the Captain hardly knows the 
best channels ; o\\dng to which circumstances we stuck 
in the mud for an hour, during which we broke our 
pump and had therefore to stop every now and then, 
for near an hour, to pump the boilers full again by 
hand ; add to which that our wood was quite green, and, 
until we stopped to cut do^^^l a few cedars the second 
day, we never had a decent fire, and consequently had 
to stop an hour or so sometimes to wait for more 


As we approached the Indian village there was a 
curious scene; every living soul turned out upon the 
shore, shouting "Shemong, Shemong" (canoe), and 
receiving us with repeated discharges of firearms, 
which Ave returned with three cheers and as good a 
salute as we could muster. AYe stopped here awhile 
and the Indians were invited on hoard, to the number 
of about thirty men and half a dozen squaws. Mr. 
Tupper, formerly an Indian trader, now a storekeeper 
in Peterborough, was fortunately on board and acted 
as master of ceremonies. He is a nice little man and a 
great favourite among the Indians, who call him 
*'Shosh," which, being interpreted, I found, to my 
astonisliment, means '*a little bird passing rapidly 
between you and the sun;" by which is meant that he 
is what the Y'ankees call "pretty considerable spry." 
About three dozen wine glasses were produced and 
handed to each, according to his rank, with some ap- 
propriate speech, but, as we only had about half a 
bottle of port on board, the quantity was increased and 
the quality not deteriorated hy the admixture of a 
bottle and half of brandy. I was introduced in great 
form to Xogy and Bill Crane, the two chiefs, and then 
they were taken to view the wonders of the engine 
room. "With all our guests on board we proceeded on 
our journey into Buckhorn — Lake shall I call it? — 
Swamp were a better word, — where we were to pass 
the night and discharge some of our passengers. As 
many of the Indians as their canoes would carry left 
us here, but a considerable number, with the squaws, 
encamped on shore ; with whom I spent an hour or two, 
watching their proceedings. It was a curious scene. 
The night was beautiful though frosty, and the Aurora 
formed a bright arch across the zenith, the northern 


part filled with streamers, changing their lines and 
forms every moment, and underneath, round a blazing 
fire, sat about twenty Indians, the men lounging 
about, some dozing, some smoking, whilst the squaws 
were engaged in washing potatoes and putting them 
into a huge boiler, or twisting and tearing off lumps 
of venison which were added to the mess. 

In the morning I bought a canoe and amused myself, 
for three or four hours, in paddling amongst the 
numerous low islands, until about ten o'clock the 
steamer was ready to start; but, though the distance 
is not much more than twelve miles, we did not reach 
Bob Cajwin till dark ; — or rather, as it should be called, 
Bob-cajion-unk, though it generally goes by the former 
name or the familiar appellation of Bob. 

7th. Early in the morning McAndrew and I bor- 
rowed Capt. Sawers' boat and performed a pretty hard 
day's work, ro^\ing upwards of thirty-five miles and 
scrambling through the bush not far short of ten ; but 
what made it worse was that from half past five to 
nine o'clock in the evening we had nothing to eat but 
two small biscuits, one for tea and the other for dinner. 
To this sad fare we were reduced by Capt. Sawers who 
obstinately refused to give us any pork or flour or even 
to lend us a pot in which to boil some potatoes we had 
begged, — to punish us, as he said, for coming unpre- 
pared from such a land of plenty as Peterborough to 
sponge upon the poor backwoodsman at Bob. We 
first landed at the mouth of my creek and pushed on, 
along its course, for about a mile, through an almost 
impassable cedar swamp, — not so much impassable 
from the wet as from the thousands of trees which en- 
cumber the ground in every direction, sometimes five 
or six deep, in every stage of decay. 


To YOU, I dare say, a swamp conveys no very plea- 
sant ideas, but I look upon that bit of land as the best 
I have; in the first place the cedars (though not red 
cedar) are very valuable for posts, rails and sundry 
other purposes; there is at least a foot of vegetable 
matter at the top and a good alluvial soil at the bottom, 
and there cannot be any difficulty in draining it. If 
the creek were cleared from the decayed trees, which 
choke it up everywhere, the fall is such that it would 
drain the land without any further expense; and this 
will not be difficult, for, if a cedar swamp is well 
chopped and the fire put in at a good time, it will not 
leave a particle of inflammable matter behind ; indeed it 
only burns up too much. The cedar stumps, it is true, 
will not rot out in two or three generations, but, if fire 
is put into them in a year or two, they will burn down 
below the surace and leave you perfectly clear meadow 
land, though certainly ill adapted to the plough; and 
for the former purpose such land is for other reasons 
the most proper, as in spring and autumn it will be 
liable to flood. 

We next landed at a pretty point, attracted by the 
sandy beach, which is rather a rare thing along these 
lakes, and found excellent land close do^\Ti to the shore ; 
but what pleased me better, we stumbled upon a brook, 
rimning merrily over a gravelly bottom, the mouth of 
which is imperceptible from the lake. Where it comes 
from and whether it may not be another mouth of the 
former one I cannot tell, for the ground was covered 
with a kind of nettle, growing very high, which, though 
not so painful as our English nettle, made nothing of 
stinging through our trousers. Near this is to be my 
shanty, there being every advantage; dry and good 


land, excellent water, a sandy beach for my canoe, 
and a fine open view do^\^l the lake. 

My land at any rate is well watered, for, besides the 
two larger streams, on my former journey I discovered 
a small one, which may indeed be the same as this last, 
but, where I crossed it, it was I'unning in an opposite 
direction ; but in my next letter I shall be able to give 
you a better account of the topography of my land. 

Again we landed and went back on another part 
where there is a hill, which will undoubtedly be the 
situation for a house, some dozen years hence, if mat- 
ters prosper with me. But now comes the worst of the 
business. In surveying a towmship the surveyor only 
marks the boundary lines and the concession lines, 
which in Fenelon run north and south; and, as my 
shore runs in the same direction, of course my boun- 
daries are the side lines, which are merely imaginary 
lines which none but a surveyor can find; so that I 
am in the most pleasing uncertainty whether any of 
these three points is in my land. By guessing at the 
distance from Sturgeon Point and Cameron's Falls, 
and by the bearing of a creek on the opposite side of 
the lake, I thought that I could find my front, which is 
a mile in extent, and my creek I considered an infallible 
guide; but since I have found two where only one is 
marked, I begin to doubt whether the cedar swamp is 
not to the north of me. Again, if that is really my 
creek, the hill is so near my other boundary that I dare 
not begin clearing there; and as for the other creek, — 
I yesterday found out a nasty little broken front of ten 
or twelve acres, barely perceptible on the map, which 
comes exactly in the middle of my frontages and which 
I vehemently suspect to be the identical spot where 
the creek falls into the lake. This however I will buv 


ou Tuesday, at all costs, and then I think I may be 
certain of being on my own land. 

After leaving my part of the lake, we crossed to 
search for McAndrew's land; but, after a three hours' 
search, we could not even find the boundary of the two 
to^ATiships, such is the uncertainty in which we poor 
pioneers are left. I have since seen the surveyor of 
Verulam, who will be up there next week, and has 
promised to mark the boundary. This will set Mc- 
Andrew at ease, but, as to me, the running of my lines 
will be a tedious and, I am afraid, an expensive job, 
and at any rate he has not time to do it now, being en- 
gaged to lay out the to\\Ti at Bob-cajion-unk, which is 
to be called St. Albans.* 

After toiling through the woods in all directions in 
search of a blaze; tired, hungry and mosquito-bitten, 
McAndrew and I sat down in despair under a cedar, 
woefully contemplating a ten mile row home against a 
confounded wind which had sprung up right in our 
teeth, and, by way of getting home the faster, both 
most unintentionally fell fast asleep ; the consequence 
of which was that we had to go do^^^l the rapids in the 
dark, Avhicli we accomplished without touching a rock, 
a thing by the bye which I never yet could do by 

The next morning (the 8th) we took the precaution 
of getting a good breakfast before starting and of 
begging a slice of bread of one of the workmen, and, 

* The survey, as Mr. Need notes in Six Years in the Bush, took 
place a month later, on Oct. 6th, but the place was not called St. 
Albans. The village was laid out, apparently by the Govern- 
ment, in connection with the work of connecting Sturgeon and 
Pigeon Lakes by a canal. In the following year, on July 16th, 
1834, when the Lieutenant-Governor came up to view the works, 
he named the settlement Rokeby, the name still commonly used 
for that part of the village of Bobcaygeon. 


it being Sunday, we took two of Sawers' men to help 
us to pull up on a second blaze hunt ; but de\'il a bit of 
anything could we find, though, in a long push back 
through the woods, we must have crossed the line 
several times. We found out its situation, however, 
within a hundred yards or so, from the bearings of the 
opposite shore, so that McAndrew has the pleasure of 
knowing that, if his house is not on his own land, it is 
at any rate not more than twenty or thirty yards on his 
neighbour 's. 

Next morning, the 9th, we arranged to return with 
Athill (one of our settlers) in his canoe, and were to 
start at six o'clock ; but as he very kindly got up at five, 
and was a mile on his road when we went into his room 
to call him, we were left once more in the lurch. How- 
ever we found a workman, more hospitable than his 
master, who gave us a breakfast, and another who lent 
us a leaky canoe in which we embarked, lea\ang our 
friends to enjoy their joke, and having at least gained 
this much experience, — that no one should trust to 
friends, in the woods, for such indispensable articles 
as provisions and a canoe. 

As we carried an extra cargo of a hundred weight 
of water, — of course the wdnd was in our teeth, — what 
with that and stopping to bale from time to time, we 
were five good hours up to our knees in water in pad- 
dling eight miles to McQue's, where we succeeded in 
getting his son to take us down in a dry canoe. But, 
as fate would have it, when we had a prospect of dry 
feet, the rain commenced, and lasted till we reached 
Peterborough at dark. The sole subject of our con- 
versation for the last mile was the pleasures of a hot 
supper and a bottle of ale. Alas! on our arrival the 
ale was finished and a cold fowl all the eatables in the 


house, to a leg of which we had just helped ourselves, 
when a hungry Yorkshireman entered and most uncere- 
moniously transferred the remainder to his plate. 
However some bread and butter and a bottle of mulled 
wine put us in spirits again, and we retired to bed to 
wish ourselves back in the woods, where at any rate 
there are no fleas. 

Ever since I have been here I have as yet secured no 
choppers but expect to do so to-morrow. My provi- 
sions and other necessaries are all ready and for stock 
to my farm I have procured a kitten and am looking 
out for a goat for milk during winter. On AVednesday, 
Deo volente, I mean to sleep at Need's, and on Thurs- 
day (19th Sept.) under a cedar on my own land. For 
the present I must give up my pen hoping to get to 
sleep soon enough to cheat the fleas, if my cold feet 
will allow me, for my fire has been long out and the 
nights are already getting abominably frosty. 

To HIS Father 

Peterborough, Oct. 31, 1833 

I am much obliged to you for the fishing tackle. I 
fear that much of it will be of little use to me upon our 
lakes, neither salmon nor trout making their appear- 
ance so high up ; but the lines at any rate ^^'ill be useful 
to me, and the rest perhaps to fishers on the lower 

Our fish are the bass, the maskinonge — a most excel- 
lent species of pike, as fat almost as an eel — and the 
eel itself; the sunfish I believe we have, but I have 
never seen nor tasted any; the whitefish abound above 
and salmon trout below. The bass is our staple com- 
modity, and a most excellent one it is; if you are on 


the lake, tie a line, baited with a piece of red cloth, 
round your wrist and proceed on your journey, and it 
is ten to one that, before you have got a quarter of a 
mile, you ^\i\\ feel your prize. In some parts of the 
lake, if you are short of meat for dinner, you may put 
the potatoes on to boil and, before they are done 
enough, you may have ten or twenty bass on the gTid- 
iron. Maskinonge and eel are generally speared, a 
very difficult matter till one has studied the laws of 
refraction a little. I have bought some seine twine and 
mean to net a net this winter which I expect will supply 
me pretty well with fish next summer; and I do not 
know whether it may not be worth while to take up an 
old pork barrel with the brine to Lake Kinashgingi- 
quash, some vacant week in the smmner, and bring- 
back a cargo of whitefish, which, salted in that manner, 
are almost as good as herrings. At any rate I cannot 
afford salt pork at present prices: I am selling it to 
my choppers at £4-12-6 p. barrel of 200 lb., and I do not 
make a half -penny by it. 

For game — we have abundance of venison, which is 
becoming more plentiful as the clearings increase, 
affording them more food and driving off the wolves ; 
you may buy it of the Indians at 11/2^- P- ^^^-j ^^^^ some- 
times for less. Partridge and rabbits are pretty plen- 
tiful, but the former difficult to get without a dog. 
Ducks, in thousands and tens of thousands, frequent 
the rice beds at the mouth of the Scugog, about four 
or five miles from me. These, together with a bear, 
two wolves, martens, racoons, muskrats and squirrels, 
are my only acc[uaintances as yet. . . . 

In a fortnight or so I hope to send you a parcel 
myself, by some private hand, in return for yours : its 
principal contents will be some maps of the Newcastle 


district which I am publishing, partly with a view to 
profit and partly to benefit the district. I am pretty 
certain not to lose and expect to make a profit of £10 
or £15 ; at any rate I have the merit of setting a good 
example, for as soon as my map was in the press gov- 
ernment gave orders for sunilar maps of all the dis- 
tricts to be published. The plan is to have all the 
towTiships marked and the lines of the lots indicated. 
Such maps of each district are to be seen at the Sur- 
veyor's office upon payment of 1/3, so you may suppose 
that the clerks, to whom the fee comes, throw every 
imaginable impediment in the way, and they at first re- 
fused to give my printer the copies, even when he 
shewed them the positive order of the Governor to that 

I believe I have now fully answered your letters 
and may go on with my journal from somewhere about 
the 12th September. 

I believe I added, as I was lea\dng Peterborough, 
that I had been detained by the expected arrival of the 
Governor. Indeed the whole to\^^l was in as great a 
ferment as if His Majesty himself had been expected. 
Militia men turned out and the guard mounted before 
a loghouse, dignified with the name of Government 
House. By the bye, the said house is so full of bugs 
that they dared not invite his Excellency to sleep in it 
and had rigged up a tent near it, under which his bed 
was prepared. However, as I said before. Col. Bro\\^i 
and his men were parading about for two days, and 
one whole day was spent by nearly half the to\m in 
erecting a flagstaff. The second day it was considered 
certain he would come, and we all, except one or two 
cunning ones, put on our clean shirts, etc. Troopers 
were galloping about in all directions, watching all the 


aYenues by which the enemy might approach; and a 
man was stationed on an elevated point, with, orders to 
keep his eyes fixed on the bridge and to fire a shot 
the moment the great man crossed it. At last, about 
noon, every thing was ready; the colonel had drawn 
out his forces so as to make the best possible show, the 
dozen who had uniforms being posted in conspicuous 
situations, and a reserve of ragged Irishmen being 
drawn up behind the cow house to fire a salute. And, 
after all, they ended by saluting our parson, or rather 
his horse ; for the reverend gentleman, finding the ani- 
mal which had been sent forward to bear the honoured 
weight of the Governor, mounted him and rode forward 
with the news that he was not coming at all. Some of 
the officers, who had their uniforms on, were very 
indignant; those who had made everything ready to 
slip them on at a moment's warning laughed; but as 
for our worthy little Colonel — for a full minute it was 
doubtful whether he would not cry. Mr. McDonell, the 
government agent, bore it \yith the greatest philo- 
sophy, — he merely observed, "Well, well, then we'll 
eat the little pig ourselves." Xevertheless it was no 
small inconvenience to me, for the boat was stopped 
to carry the Governor up our Lakes, and I could not 
get off by it after all, for the captain, when he found he 
had been made a fool of for three or four days, set off 
in a pet, without gi^'ing anybody notice. 

Finding I could not get it till Monday the 23rd, I 
sent enough luggage, to serve for my first settlement, 
to go on that day, and took that opportunity of going 
up to Sandy Lake on Saturday the 21st, with a Mr. 
Mudge of the Na\^^, who is settled there, and with a 
Lieut, Hay, R.X., who was on the lookout for land. 


The greater part of the day (Sunday, the 22nd) 
Mudge did the honours of his lake, and in the evening 
we walked across to little Bald Lake. Both of these 
are very beautiful, but, notwithstanding their greater 
vicinity to Peterborough, I do not like them as well as 
my own situation, the land being not so good and they 
being out of the chain of lakes. The next day they and 
I walked over to Buckhorn Lake, where we met two 
Indians by appointment who took us do\^^l to Deer 
Bay or rather Lake where we landed and went back 
in several places ; the scenery is the most beautiful I 
have seen and the land the worst, — I am afraid they 
are two things which do not go together. 

We had expected to be in time to catch the steamer 
in Buckhorn Lake, but, in consequence of a deer hunt 
which kept us some time, we vrere too late, and had to 
sleep at a house there. The next morning, the 24th 
September, we* started by day-break in my owti canoe ; 
which I had brought up from the Indian village. The 
mist was so thick I could scarcely find my way to the 
nearest house on the shore, where we intended to break- 
fast. LTpon arriving there, we found them all ill of the 
ague, and no eatables; so were obliged to push on to 
Bill)^ McQue's. There nobody was at home but we 
took possession, and, thinking the spade looked cleaner 
than the frying pan, I broiled some venison we had 
with us on it; finding some ears of corn we roasted 
them also and made an admirable breakfast. As we 
were finishing one of the lads came in and offered us 
some potatoes, which we, thinking we had some way 
to go and as it was already afternoon, accepted; 
whilst they were boiling we broiled some more venison 
and after our dinner started again and reached Bob- 

* Lieutenant Hay and himself. 


cajion-unk pretty early, where we slept on shavings in 
a loft at Sawers '. 

Early on Wednesday morning, the 25th September, 
I found out the two men I had engaged to chop for me 
and, upon consulting with them, found that their boat 
and canoe were insufficient to take up our luggage, so 
I borrowed a scow and four men at 3/6 a day, from the 
canal which is cutting, and, after several hard hours' 
work, they got my load up the rapids. About two 
o'clock they reached Sawers', and thence Hay and I 
w^ent on in the canoe and had a fire ready for them to 
cook their dinner at Need's. From thence I got them 
off about four o'clock, and. as it was a beautiful after- 
noon and we had a moon, I intended to work at it all 
night. About five we set off to follow them and over- 
took them at sunset, when the weather became men- 
acing, and soon after a tremendous thunderstorm came 
on which forced us to land at the nearest point we 
could make. This, in the dark, happened to be a swamp 
— and here I must leave us for the present, endeavour- 
ing, for a long time ineffectually, to light a fire. 

[Tlie narrative of this expedition is continued in a 
letter addressed to his sister, dated the same as the 
previous letter, Peterborough, Oct. 31, 1833. This 
letter was also received on the same day as the other.] 

Having filled the largest sheet I can find to my 
father with my adventures, and having still more than 
a month to record, I do not see why I should not kill 
two birds with one stone and dedicate the continuation 
to you. I left us, as you will no doubt know before you 
get this, endeavouring to light a fire upon a little ridge 
in a swamp by the lake side, and you must now imagine 
us successful notwithstanding the rain, and fancy Mr. 


Hay and myself, six men, a woman and a half -starved 
wretched little baby sitting round the fire, some drying 
themselves, the rain having abated, and some cooking 
supper. Here we determined to sleep, and, after sup- 
per, the woman and baby were put under the boat, Mr. 
Hay and myself stretched ourselves side by side near 
the fire, ^^dth our knapsacks as pillows and my blanket 
and water-proof cloak over us, and the men each crept 
under a bush or tree as best he could ; one poor devil, 
not knowing Iioav far he was going, had not even 
brought his coat with him. 

As I have mentioned the baby, lest your compassion 
should be too much excited by it, it may be as well to 
observe, that though the most miserable puny little 
creature imaginable a month since, it is now, thanks 
to the air of the woods, at least half a year older in 
appearance and more noisy than is at all agreeable. 

It rained all night, but, thanks to my waterproof. 
Hay and I remained dry; but, about three or four in 
the morning, such a storm commenced that we were 
obliged to fly for shelter to a hollow tree where, not- 
withstanding our cramped position, I slept most 
soundly till day-break. It having cleared again a little, 
we breakfasted and started about seven (26th Sept.), 
but we had barely proceeded a mile when a storm more 
a\\^ul than any I have seen in Canada conuncnced, and 
Hay and I made with all speed for a sandy beach, and 
there, upsetting the canoe, we crept under and lay 
there till noon, without ever daring to peep out and 
see what had become of the scow. I don't think I ever 
saw such tremendous rain. About noon, having ex- 
hausted all our topics of conversation and having slept 
as much as we could, we got tired of our situation and, 
there being no chance of its clearing up, we emerged 


from our hiding place and lannched our canoe. The 
sco\\mien were not far off, under a cedar tree; we 
roused them up and got once more under way, Mr. Hay 
and I in the canoe, and the woman and child with her 
husband in the boat, going on before to my land to 
light a fire, etc. 

There we landed about three o'clock, completely 
drenched, and prepared to light a fire when we dis- 
covered that my fool of a man had brought no means 
of procuring a light. Now I, who, for the last four or 
five years of my life, never stirred out without tinder 
and flint and steel in my pocket, happened on this oc- 
casion to have left them behind ; and, the onl}^ giin we 
had with us being a percussion one, we could get no 
fire from it ; so we were obliged to send the man back 
in the boat to meet the scow, and, after near two hours 
vain endeavours to warm ourselves, we at last got a 
good fire up and supper cooked, just as the scow ar- 
rived. The evening having become fine on a sudden 
and the wind being fair, I determined upon sending the 
men back in the scow, much against their inclination. 
Just about sunset, however, the bad weather returned, 
and, as the poor devils did not get back till three 
o'clock the next afternoon, they have given me a bad 
name, averring that I only gave them four meals in 
three days, which is strictly true, but then they forgot 
to say that they had already breakfasted the first day 
and that I offered them at parting as much pork and 
potatoes with them as they liked, which they in a pet 
declined. However I have learnt two things from 
the days' adventiires — never to stir twenty yards from 
my owm door without flint and steel, and I have also 
got a light axe made to carry at my belt, and it has 
served me manv a turn since; the other thing — never 


to turn any man from my house at night, and God 
knows I should have been hospitable upon this oc- 
casion, as the house I then kept was an open house. 
This same house, to which we retired when the men 
were gone, consists of three cedars and a butternut, 
covered with mid vine, — very picturesque truly and 
very airy, and there it shall stand unharmed, if pos- 
sible, amidst the general havoc, as a memento of my 
first landing ; but as the road line, I find, runs over my 
very hearthstone, I may perhaps be compelled to have 
it do\ATi. 

As soon as we had got our suppers, we got the 
canoe up to the fire and made it our roof. I gave Hay, 
as my guest, my best blanket, my waterproof and the 
choice of his bed, and I believe he slept pretty well; 
but as to myself my lair was on an inclined plane, so 
that as soon as I fell asleep I rolled out, and, instead of 
sleeping under the canoe, I slept under the drip of the 
canoe ; as the fire had gone out, when I woke about one, 
and my blanket was very thin, I felt considerably cold. 
I woke up the men and made them get another fire, and 
for an hour or two I amused myself toasting potatoes 
at it till I got dry, when I went to bed again and again 
acted the part of gutter to the roof till morning, though 
as Hay's snoring kept me a good deal awake I con- 
tinued to keep up my position rather better than in the 
earlier part of the night. But I must not grumble at 
Hay's comfortable sleep, for, though he had the better 
berth, he caught a cold and I did not. 

The next morning, 27th Sept., it really became fine, 
and, having taken my choppers to show them where to 
begin, I set out with Hay to show him some land on 
Cameron's Lake; but, a stiff wind being against us, we 
thought, when we got to the Falls, there would be no 


time to cross the Lake; so we returned to dinner and 
then set off on our return, land-hunting as we went. 
A most lovely afternoon compensated us for our 
fatigues, and we reached Need's to sleep. 

Here I had intended leaving Hay and returning to 
my land, but, hearing that the steamer was not coming 
up and as Hay had no other way of getting do^^^l but 
my canoe, I determined to go down with him, par- 
ticularly as I could do nothing on my land at present 
and as I wanted to get up the rest of my luggage. And 
here I remained wasting this precious season of the 
year, through the delays of the tradesmen, from whom 
I could get nothing done without continually teazing 
and urging them on, and partly in waiting for Mc- 
Andrew and Jameson, my two nearest neighbours, 
who were detained from the same cause and with 
whom I intended to get my luggage up. 

From the 29th Sept., when I arrived, to the 11th 
October, when I left Peterborough, I have nothing to 
record but that, on the 6tli, McAndrew and I walked up 
to Selby,* about nine miles off, the intended site of a 
flourishing village, and were much pleased with the 
beautiful rapids, upon which it is built ; and that Hay, 
not being able to get land in my neighbourhood suit- 
able to his wishes, has settled on Sandy Lake; for 
which I am sorry, as I was much pleased with him. 

On Friday, the 11th, we set out to Mud Lake, being 
obliged to leave many things behind us, and got to the 
rapids at Bob-ca-je-won-unk (that is the spelling I 
think I shall adopt, a and j having the English pro- 
nunciation) that night. Here McAndrew and I found 
that the government scow we had intended to use was 
removed, so we volunteered our services and those of 

* Now Lakefield. 


our men to assist Jameson np, if he would lend us his 
scow afterwards. Accordingly on Saturday morning 
(the 12th) we commenced unloading her of about seven 
or eight tons of goods, and got thirteen hands from 
the works, who, with us eight, had hard work getting 
her over the fall ; above this we loaded her again, when 
it appears the hands from the canal wanted $16.00 for 
the w^hole job of getting her up the rapids, which for 
three-quarters of a day we thought a most exorbitant 
charge ; so Jameson paid them $4.50 for w^hat they had 
done, and we all turned into the water, resoMng to 
get her up ourselves; but, after having been an hour 
working hard up to our middles in the water, we were 
obliged to give it up, and Jameson had to go over again 
and cry peccavi ; the contractors, like the Sibyl of old, 
sent us only eleven men but still charged the same 
$16.00 in addition to the $4.50. We felt ourselves how- 
ever in their power and were obliged to submit ; but we 
now got up gloriously, as we all, being already wet, 
continued to help in the water. About the middle how- 
ever the channel suddenly deepened so much that I 
w^as left behind, unless I had taken to swimming. My 
first notice w^as seeing McAndrew, who is six feet two, 
put his watch in his mouth (mine had long been there) 
and the next moment I w^as up to the shoulders. Not 
relishing a swim, I left them and went on to prepare 
for their reception above, where I lighted a glorious 
fire in an empty shanty into which I effected an en- 
trance via the chimney. 

The next morning, being Sunday (the 13th), w^e 
wasted several valuable hours in shaving and such 
luxuries, and did not get off till ten — with our own 
party only — and as we unfortunately struck upon some 
rocks in the rapids, we had to jump out again; then, 


the wind being very wintry, there arose a sort of con- 
test w^ho should take the oars to warm ourselves. How- 
ever, what with the wind and what with our exercise, 
we were tolerably dry by the time we reached Cedar 
Point, where we resolved upon camping-, about an 
hour after dark. Here we experienced the wisdom of 
the Indian custom of encamping before sunset, for it 
was so dark that we lost nmch time in procuring suit- 
able wood, and were half an hour in getting a light, all 
our punk being wet in our pockets. At last, with the 
assistance of gunpowder, we lighted a fire, but to me, 
as flint and steel bearer, it was at the expense of one 
whisker and both eyelashes. After an excellent supper 
of stewed duck and potatoes, we slept most soundly, 
McAndrew and I occupying a bed of cedar boughs near 
the fire, with a buffalo robe for mattress and another 
for a counterpane. 

Next morning (the 14th) we roused Jameson and 
got him on one and a half miles to my land to break- 
fast. Here McAndrew and I stayed behind looking at 
my land, and then followed to Cameron's Falls, where 
the scow was unloaded, and with our two men we 
brought her do\\ni, with a fair wind, to my place for 
dinner. Starting again at four, we reached Sandy 
Point soon after sunset ; taking the precaution of call- 
ing at Cedar Point to carry away some of the embers, 
which were still smouldering from our last night's fire. 

Next morning (the 15th) we were up before day- 
break and pulling against a stiff breeze at sunrise. 
We reached the head of the rapids at ten and left our 
large scow there, going down to borrow a small scow 
from the works to bring up our luggage in two or three 
trips. McAndrew, with four hired hands, undertook 
the scow, whilst I remained getting a second load 


ready. Eight times they got round an island out of 
sight, and as often the current carried them back al- 
most to their starting place; but at last they accom- 
plished it and took up a second load. That night we 
slept in a bed and were so comfortable that we never 
were conscious till morning that our shanty, twenty 
by sixteen feet, contained twenty-three other souls.* 
On Wednesday morning (the 16th) we got up another 
load, and, with four extra hands, took the large scow 
up to McAndrew's to sleep. My man I parted \\ith 
the day before, nominally because his wife asked too 
high wages, but really because I found him too old to 
be of much use as a chopper and too fond of whiskey 
to be very useful as a trusty servant; and I should 
have been without a man, if I had not accidentally met 
my old friend Dan'l O'Flynn in the woods, carrying all 
his worldly property upon his back, consisting of a 
sheet, a blanket, a Bible and a t as he calls it. 

I do not remember whether I mentioned this individual 
in a former letter. The first time I was up the Lakes 
we observed a disconsolate figure, sitting on the shore, 
and, thinking that he might be lost, we approached 
him; he informed us that he was one Dan O'Flynn who, 
having been clearing his land in the rear for two 
months, had come down to the lake shore for the chance 
of seeing a man. Ever since, he has taken me under his 
especial patronage and has constituted himself my 
mentor and valet de chambre, requiring me, in re- 

* This inn, which was wanting in the first land hunting trips, 
was evidently built after the settlement was laid out by the 
Land Surveyor on Oct. 6. (see note p. 32). On that same day, 
Need says, a bid was made for the site of a tavern. This site 
is later described as a flat rock, and there is a flat rock, of the 
size mentioned above, at the water's edge on the Rokeby side of 
the river, noted as McConnell's tavern in the cut on p. 178, which 
is no doubt the tavern floor of solid rock mentioned on p. 56. 

t Undecipherable in the original. 


turn for theso favours, to keep his money safe and 
never let him spend a halfpenny of it. 

It rained all night at McAndrew's, but, by erecting 
a sort of tent of blankets, we slept pretty dry under our 
buffaloes. The next morning (the 17th), with two of 
the extra hands and Dan, I set off for my own land, 
and, after ranging my luggage under some cedars for 
the remainder of that day and half of the next, we 
employed ourselves in cutting a road from the landing, 
making my chopper's shanty our lodging. 

By noon next day (the 18th), I had fixed upon my 
situation, which is at some distance from the Lake on 
the side of a hill; the shore being too much exposed 
and too low. 

On Saturday (the 19th), the logs being all cut, we 
raised the walls ; and on Sunday morning I set out with 
two men in my canoe to McAndrew's, who in the mean- 
time had got on a little faster than I, having no road 
to cut. After breakfast he and I set out in my canoe 
to proceed up the Scugog into Ops to buy boards and 
potatoes. For two or three hours we were employed 
searching for the mouth of the river, which at last 
we found — about two and a half miles from where it is 
laid down in the maps, and, as we had fourteen to go 
up the river to the mills, it was dark when we arrived 

The Scugog, for twelve miles of a very circuitous 
course, is one continued dismal swamp; the banks in- 
deed are covered with trees, but between them, in 
spring at least, a canoe may pass. For the last two 
miles there begins to be a decided stream, and for the 
last an actual rapid between high and picturesque 
banks. At last it became so dark, and so difficult to 
thread one's way through the shoal of an unknown 


rapid, that we gave it up, and lauding we groped 
our way through the woods, till we fell in with 
a path which led us to the Mills, and, there being no 
tavern, we were received by Mr. Purdy the miller, 
a Yankee. 

Purdy 's mills have, I should imagine, the largest 
mill-dam in the world. It raises the water seven feet 
and makes a navigable communication, where none 
before existed, for thirty-seven miles back. It destroys 
seven mill sites and overflows 11,000 acres of land. 
Last year the dam gave way and the water was six 
months in running out, raising the waters of our lakes 
so liigh that for five weeks Col. Baldwin's mills, forty 
miles off by water,* were stopped from working. 
"When the dam was mended, the Scugog river had no 
existence for three months, while the dam was filling, 
l^ou may form an idea from these facts of the un- 
healthy and low nature of the land in the to^\^lships of 
Ops and Cartwright. 

Next day (Monday the 21st), having bought our 
lumber and potatoes and arranged for their convey- 
ance dowm, we returned, shooting ducks by the way, 
and slept at Mc Andrew's. 

On Tuesday I returned home alone to breakfast and 
found the roof on my shanty; and on Wednesday we 
got the walls chinked and my luggage brought up. On 
Thursday the logs for the other shanty were cut, but 
for want of help we could not raise it. That same 
Thursday the 24th October I slept for the first time 
under a roof of my o^^^l. 

On Friday the 25th in the morning, Eobert Gordon, 
with whom I fell in by accident and have engaged as 
my man for the winter, set out in the choppers' skiff, 

* On Pigeon Creek in the Township of Emily. 


and Dan and I in my canoe, to bring over iielp from 
McAndrew's. The skiff contrived to reach liim, but 
Dan and I, after proceeding about one and a half miles, 
found it quite hopeless for a canoe to live in such a 
tremendous sea, and were obliged to run for the near- 
est point where the waves would allow us to effect a 
landing. Here we employed ourselves in exploring 
until the wind abated sufficiently to allow us to make 
another run for my own landing. Robert attempted 
that night to come over, but after being out two hours, 
baling with their hats, they were obliged to put back. 

On Saturday (26th) morning he arrived, rather 
late, wdth two hands; but we never should have got 
the walls up had not the scow with potatoes and 
the raft of boards fortunately arrived; and even 
with their assistance we did not get them quite up — 
though all the heaviest are up and the rest carried to 
the spot. 

On Sunday morning (27th), I set off with Dan and 
Robert to dinner at McAndrew's with the intention of 
proceeding here [Peterborough] the next day; but 
about midnight arrived, witli two friends, Mr. Hunter, 
with whom McAndrew and I went up the Lakes when 
we chose our land; so I could do no less than accom- 
pany him on to do the honours of my owti house and up 
to Cameron's Falls, getting to Xeed's that night and 
to Peterborough the following (29th). 

To-morrow (1st Nov.) at five o'clock I shall be on my 
way back with all tlie things I can get up : but there ^^'ill 
be some gleanings for McAndrew next week, and the 
next following we shall probably be shut up for the 
\vinter, — so be not surprised if you do not hear of me 
again for a couple of months. The frost is always very 


severe ; if it will but hold off till my chimney i? built I 
don't care. 

My Journal has been so long this time that I have no 
room for fifty things I had to tell you of my plans, etc. 
At present I can only shortly tell you who are our 
society. My nearest neighbour, at Cameron's Falls, is 
Jameson, an agreeable, gentlemanly Irishman, a great 
land speculator who will soon have a town about him. 
I remember him of old by sight in Liverpool, where you 
will probably see him this winter. The next nearest 
and my most particular friend is McAndrew, a Scotch- 
man from Elgin, knowing Grant Duff, John Morison, 
etc. He has been a long time in Portugal. Opposite 
me, and perhaps nearer than McAndrew, is a Mr. and 
Mrs. Beast on; but I have seen nothing but their house 
as yet. These are the only Fenelon men. In Verulam, 
on our Lake, are Capt. Warren and Athill of Trin. 
Coll. Dublin; the one a puppyish soldier, the other 
gentlemanly but never can be agreeable till he gives up 
punning. Opposite them, Mr. Fraser of the army, a 
pleasant man enough, with a little Dutch wife. He 
was shipwrecked in coming out and lost everything. 
Besides these are the three old settlers. Need, D'Arcos 
and Sawers. Then in Harvey there are ]\[udge and 
Hay, and two Trin. Coll. Dublin men. King and Evans ; 
King a Jersey man, an excellent scholar and great 
linguist. Round this place [Peterborough] there are 
several young men, mostly Scotch and rather wild. 
My next most intimate acquaintance is Joseph Hunter, 
a Quaker, from Belfast, who lives principally at Co- 
bourg. As to ladies, the three Miss Browns and Miss 
Crawford are my only acquaintances. And now fare- 
well until sleighing time. 


To HIS Brother 

From my own house Jan. 9th, 1834 

First let me wish you all the compliments of the sea- 
son, and then apologize for the long period of my 
silence. My conscience however does not smite me 
much, as I not only wrote two letters upon the last oc- 
casion but gave fair w^arning that you might expect 
a long interval before you heard from me again. JThe„ 
^£ost, as you must be aware, does not stop at my door, 
and it is a long walk to go forty miles through the snow 
To put a letter in the Post Office at Peterborough. One 
opportunity indeed I had when I sent my man down, 
about three weeks ago, but I hastened his departure 
for the sake of giving him company on his journey, 
and, though I still had two days' notice, this must 
serve as my excuse — I had just got into my new house 
and, as the thermometer stood at ten degrees, I was 
naturally extremely anxious to put in windows and 
doors before the cold increased; and, not to mention 
that I had no table, I had nothing but iron pens, in 
which the ink froze so fast as to render the writing 
even of a short note a work of considerable time and 
labour. However, to drop excuses, I am resolved to be 
ready for any chance opportunity to Peterborough, 
though at present in perfect ignorance how this is to 
reach any civilized portion of the province. 

Your letter arrived by my man on his return [from 
Peterborough] on the day of all others when I least 
needed such a luxury. McAndrew was spending Xmas 
time with me; we had worked hard all day, flooring the 
loft and reducing everything to order ; a table had been 
manufactured out of a door and two empty barrels, 
a table cloth was airing at the fire, silver forks, mus- 


tard, and such-like almost forgotten luxuries were 
ready to grace it, and last — not least — we were almost 
longing for bed time to luxuriate once more in the 
novelty of a pair of sheets. Such were the prospects 
of enjoyment before us when Robert returned with a 
handful of letters for each, and a bundle of old news- 
papers which some kind friend at Peterborough had 
sent to enliyen our solitude. Imagine Avhat an evening 
we spent. If they had arrived now, when sheets, table 
cloth, etc., are losing the charm of novelty, and I am 
sitting alone by my fire, the arrival would have been 
better timed. But I vnll read your letter over again 
and then answer it. 

The most important topic in your letter, or at least 
the one which has run most in my head, is — the ad- 
vantage and safety of a person in England investing 
money in Canada; with regard to which, after revol- 
ving the matter long in my mind, I have come to the 
following opinion. 

Land, except to one residing upon it and cultivating 
it himself, can never, for many years to come, be looked 
upon as a permanent investment ; for, from the facility 
of acquiring a freehold, a system of tenantry can never 
be introduced, at least with anything like favourable 
terms to the landowner, and even then it can be by no 
means common. Purchasing land is only a specula- 
tion for the purpose of selling it again, and it is the 
most profitable and certain kind of s^Deculation that 
Canada holds out. 

Land speculations are of three sorts, all profitable 
hut differing greatly in their natures. The first is 
confined ahuost entirely to storekeepers and married 
men in old and well settled to\^^lships, and is the way 
in which almost all our Canadian fortunes have been 


made. A storekeeper gives a long credit, or an at- 
torney or banker advances money on mortgage to some 
needy and extravagant farmer, and, besides getting a 
good interest, generally ends in getting possession of 
his farm at half its value, and then speedily disposes 
of it to some new emigrant who is frightened of the 
discomforts of the woods and is glad to give a hand- 
some price for a ready built house and a few acres of 
cleared land. These speculators know the circum- 
stances of every farmer in the neighbourhood; they 
find a poor one and lend him money to be repaid when 
his crops come in, which they generally contrive to 
secure below the market price. The next year he wants 
a larger advance; the third year, after his crops have 
come "to market, he has perhaps barely enough to buy 
his winter's stores; he talks of selling his farm, and 
tries to hold out till the emigrants arrive next year; 
but the emigrants barely get up the country till June, 
and before that time he has generally been obliged to 
sell at any price which the speculator may have the 
modesty to offer. There are no doubt many honourable 
men engaged in this kind of trade, and a good bargain 
need not be thro^\Ti away from pity to the necessities 
of the seller ; but thus habitually to lie in wait to prey 
upon the distresses of others is too much like a rattle- 
snake, waiting for a bird to drop into its mouth which 
its eye has already fascinated. 

The second kind of speculation is — purchasing lands 
in quite new townships, which may frequently be done 
very cheap, either by contracting for the survey, or by 
buying of the surveyors, or of individuals to whom 
lands had been given by the Indians previous to the 
survey. But here there is a risk, as it is often long 
before a township begins to settle; for instance, this 


spring there was not a settler in this towTiship, though 
it had been surveyed upwards of ten years. 

The third, and only way of speculating I think of 
practising myself or would recommend to others, is — 
to watch for a decided demonstration in a township 
towards settlement, and then go over it, and, having 
ascertained where the best land and best situations 
are, then to make your purchase. The next year, or in 
two years at most, j^ou may be certain of selling again 
at double the price ; and even if you have bought a lot 
at hazard, if it is not actual rock or swamp and the 
situation is good, you are sure of a handsome profit. 
And observe, that a person who has paid all the pur- 
chase money and, not being in want of money, will 
receive payment by instalments with interest at 6 p. ct. 
will always have a preference over others. If a pur- 
chaser does not come soon, I am sure it would pay 
well to clear a few acres, build a small house and put 
a man to farm it on shares ; and then, in a year or two, 
when the lazy gentry begin to find their way up, you 
may sell it as a cleared farm. 

United Empire rights are also sources of consider- 
able profit, but as our sapient Parliament has been 
legislating about them lately I know not how they may 
answer for the future. With mine, I mean to sell one 
hundred acres to an actual settler at a cheap rate, and 
when I get the deeds out, upon his having done the 
settlement duty, the other one hundred acres is held by 
as good a title as any other land. My neighbour 
Jameson is a very large speculator in them and will, 
I have no doubt, succeed very well. 

For other modes of investment 6 or even 12 p. ct. 
may be obtained on mortgage on the very best security. 


Banks, railroads and public works pay well, but not 
proportionately as high as in England. 

The only permanent investment which strikes me at 
present as very advisable is that of houses in towns — 
not in the hundred new to^^^ls which are advertised 
every day in the newspapers, but in a thriving, rapidly 
increasing place like Peterborough. House rent is 
enormously dear here ; a house which costs £100, built 
on a iowia. lot of half an acre costing about £25, would 
be the cheapest house in Peterborough if it did not 
bring a rent of £25, besides the annually increasing 
vaTiie of the town lot itself. Imagine in Peterborough, 
Avhich in 1825 was an Indian encampment, land selling 
at 4 - p. sciuare foot, which about a quarter of an acre 
did this year. 

With regard to the boat of wliicli you offer to make 
me a present, I am at present pretty well stocked with 
these modes of conveyance. 

My naval department consists of a canoe and a boat ; 
the former of wliich I mean to sell in the spring and 
buy another more portable. I decidedly have not yet 
acquired the true Indian twist of the wrist, but I am 
a very tolerable hand and can face a very heavy swell 
or stem a rapid much to my own satisfaction. My 
boat is undoubtedly the happiest effort of the genius 
of our boatbuilder; it is light, being built of cedar, 
rows well for either one or two persons, and, although 
flat-bottomed to suit our shallow shores, will I have no 
doubt sail pretty fairly by the aid of a leeboard which 
I am proposing to attempt. She is of considerable 
capacity too, having brought up six persons, three 
goats and some luggage from Peterborough. For 
heavier articles there is now on the stocks, to be 
finished by the breaking up of the ice, a scow, a joint 


concern between McAndrew and myself, calculated to 
carry about three or four tons, which will serve us for 
some years to come. And what is a scow? I do not 
know whether the word is English. It is a species of 
flat-bottomed boat of which the ground plan is a 
rectangle, and this v / the side view; rather 
a clumsy machine you will say, more especially if you 
saw the beams of wood, four inches by three, and 
eighteen feet long, which serve as oars; but a London 
wherry with spoon oars is not in keeping in the woods, 
and we have made even such a craft as this carry a 
ton or two, at the rate of three and a half miles an 
hour, for two or three hours at a stretch. In such a 
scow, belonging to Jameson, we have got our goods 
up from Bob-caje-won-unk this year and next year we 
must do the same ; for though the canal is progressing, 
the whole plan in my opinion is so radically bad that 
until it is altered entirely the steamer will never get 
up into Sturgeon Lake. From Peterborough to Bob- 
caje-won-unk our goods are carried up at 2/- p. 100 lbs : 
and storage at the rapids is 3d. p. 100 lb. ; from thence 
to our own houses we cannot estimate the expense at 
less than the same sum, even basing our calculations 
upon our last trip which was our most economical. At 
half past five I rowed do\\^l to McAndrew 's and 
brought him up to Cameron's Falls, altogether about 
twelve miles; Jameson being absent, we rambled into 
the bush till he returned, and, after a late dinner, bor- 
rowed his scow and started about seven in the evening. 
Stopping at my house to take in our crew and get tea, 
we rowed on, a great part of the way through ice, and 
reached the tavern at the foot of the rapids at four in 
the morning, very glad to go to sleep on the solid rock 
which forms the floor of the shanty. All the next day 


we were engaged in taking up our load by boat to the 
scow — which we had left at the top of the rapids, 
about one and a half miles off — and carrying some 
doors and other awkward-shaped articles through the 
bush. The next day we had one more trip up with the 
boat and then proceeded Avith the scow and reached 
my place before dark, performing the distance from 
Need's to McAndrew's, rather more than seven miles, 
in two hours. Our crew consisted of McAndrew and 
two of his men, myself and my boy, and of Jameson 
part of the way down. 

I give you these details to show you that twelve 
barrels of flour and a barrel of beef are not got up 
either Avithout labour or expense. Allowing McAndrew 
and myself 5/- a day for our work, which I am sure we 
deserved, the trip cost us about 2/- p. 100 lb., making in 
all about ^d. a pound upon every article which we 
got from Peterborough. But if this extra i/^d. adds 
considerably to the cost of pork and flour, what will you 
think of a most unfortunate cargo of potatoes which 
we got from Ops, Avhich, besides being frozen on the 
road, cost us at least 1/- p. bush, in freight, not to 
mention two days lost in going to buy them. I never 
was very fond of potatoes, but now I have an almost 
Cobbettish horror of the **Lazy root." Yet a requisite 
quantity of fat pork cannot be turned down without 
some A'egetable matter to qualify it; and unleavened 
bread, baked in a frying pan, is but a sorry substitute 
for bread. True I have, or had, thirty pounds of beef, 
and McAndrew very generously gave me half a bushel 
of turnips, but these are luxuries which I reserve for 
chance guests or such great occasions as Xmas or Xew 
Year's days. 


As I am on the subject of eating, you may wish to 
know how we live in the backwoods. In the summer 
fish, ducks and venison are rather plentiful, but in 
winter, that is from November to April inclusive, salt 
pork is the standing dish for breakfast, dinner and tea; 
and a most expensive one it is, each member of my 
establishment consuming at the rate of one and a 
quarter pounds per day at 6d. p. lb. To make this pork 
go further I deal much in soups — potato soup is the 
favourite and is so much relished by my men that it 
has become the ordinary dish at breakfast. Should you 
wish to introduce it into your establishment, the fol- 
lowing is the receipt. Take a lump of pork and, having 
peeled fifteen or twenty potatoes, put the whole with 
an onion into a pot and boil it until it has acquired the 
desired consistency. You may laugh, but I can assure 
you my potato soup is so celebrated that McAndrew 
desired me to bring my boy over one Sunday to teach 
his cook the mystery of the concoction. My pea soup 
is not so much admired, being merely hard black pease 
floating about in weak greasy broth. We tried a 
plum pudding at McAndrew 's on Xmas day, but it was 
a decided failure; the currants and suet were scarce, 
the eggs entirely wanting, and flour by much the pre- 
ponderating ingredient. We ate it indeed in honour 
of the day, but it was decidedlj'^ bad; however it had 
the desired effect of making a perfect Esquimaux of 
poor little Polyphemus, a one-eyed deformity who 
serves McAndrew in the office of valet, an amusing 
monster who, in addition to the extinction of his lum- 
inary, is marked with small pox, lisps most unintel- 
ligible Cumberland and has an unconquerable aversion 
to the use of a pocket handkerchief. Nevertheless, 
notwithstanding these our Canadian luxuries I have 


not forgotten an English dinner, and I am almost 
ashamed to say that visions do sometimes float before 
my imagination of the dinners I shall eat when I pay 
you a visit in Europe ; but more especially with Prince 
Hal in Shakespeare "I do remember that creature, 
small beer." Before that time indeed I may have be- 
come exclusively enamoured of salt pork and wedded 
to the use of lake water and that detestable stuff Can- 
adian whiskey. Custom does a great deal, as in the 
ease of tea. Being short of sugar, McAndrew and I 
agreed to stop it to the men, and to set an example 
gave it up ourselves; and as to milk, — pray never 
mention the word goats to me — milk was a thing we 
never dreamt of; but on Christmas we resolved to en- 
joy ourselves, produced the sugar and sent three men 
to get a pint from a neighbour, I don 't know how many 
miles off; we tried with both milk and sugar, and 
then with each separately, but finally unanimously 
resolved that pure unsophisticated tea is the best. 

I have been rather lengthy upon the subject of 
eating, but without some allusion to that most im- 
portant function I should have given you but a poor 
notion of my situation; and moreover because mat- 
ters of cookery have assumed an additional degree 
of importance with me from my having officiated as 
cook myself for three weeks. I certainly did once 
roast a duck to charcoal, and once burned the peasoup 
so much it was necessary to give it to the goats, but, 
upon the whole, when I handed over the frying pan 
and potato kettle to my boy "Willie, I did it Avith the 
conviction that nature intended me for a great cook; 
great, first because I have a genius that way, and 
secondly because I never could overcome my aversion 
to washing up dishes, etc. 


And now I will leave cookery and eating, having 
first impressed npon you two economical maxims which 
I owe to Dan OThim, whom I mentioned in my last 
letters ; first, give your servants plenty of potato soup 
because, as he elegantly expressed it, it blows them out 
without much consumption of butcher's meat: and 
secondly, either allow them very little tea and then they 
will use less sugar, or give them no sugar and then 
they cannot drink the tea so strong. 

Upon referring back I find that the origin of this 
culinary dissertation was the expense of bringing up 
stores, and I may add that this A\ill be most materially 
diminished when we get our scow, which, being built 
lighter and on an improved construction, McAndrew 
and I can take do^Ti to Peterborough by ourselves in 
one day and bring it back in two. 

The sleighing, about which we hear so much, is I am 
convinced unpracticable for us who have no beaten 
track; at least unless the ice most materially improves, 
I have had experience of it once and do not wish to 
repeat the experiment. About seven in the evening I 
set [out] to bring home some forty or fifty pounds on a 
haudsleigh from McAndrew 's, a distance of four-and- 
a-half miles, and I cannot have been less than four- 
and-a-half hours on the road — the last mile, I am con- 
vinced, took more than two hours. An unlucky cramp 
seized one of my legs, which would not hold out more 
than ten yards without a rest, and when I was ready 
to start again the sleigh was always frozen to the snow; 
the worst of it was that I could not keep myself in 
exercise long enough to keep warm. The articles were 
too numerous to be carried, and sleigh and all, they 
proved too hea%y; so I had to trudge on as well as I 
could, for as to leaving the sleigh, I did not like to be 

Alexander McAxdrew 


beaten, and some of the contents were of so savoury a 
scent — no less a treat than a couple of dozen of red 
herrings — that I was afraid the wolves would be 
making free ^vith them. To mend the matter, on my 
arrival about midnight, I found the fires out and my 
boy fled to the choppers for protection from the wolves, 
it being before the introduction of doors into my es- 
tablishment. From this experiment I have come to the 
determination never to drag a sleigh again in deep 
snow, or, if I do, at least to perform my journey by 

Talking of wolves, they are plentiful about, no 
doubt; McAndrew, who has an open view of the lake, 
has seen several and I have seen numbers of tracks, 
but I have never been fortunate enough to fall in with 
any, though one would have thought that the odour of 
my Billy goat would have attracted them for miles 

Your questions as to my neighbours have already 
been answered. The only one I see much of or care 
much for, at least when Jameson is away, is Mc- 
Andrew. I don 't know whether I mentioned that he is 
from Aberdeen awa, and knows Morison and some of 
Grant Duff's nephews and nieces, though I believe not 
the gentleman himself. He was many years in Lisbon 
and has a brother settled there; also a brother in 
Liverpool whose office is somewhere in Chapel "Walks 
I think. He came out originally -w-ith the intention of 
settling in business in Montreal. He is a very agree- 
able and useful neighbour. We came up together to 
look at land, bought it on the same day, have just the 
same quantity and have the same views with regard 
to it. All our stores have been bought and brought up 
together, and so much have all our motions been in 


concert as yet that I have a notion the good people in 
Peterborough believe us to be living together. \Ve 
have almost lived together for this last three weeks 
and the result has been that, by mutual consent this 
morning (the 10th), we have agreed never to live so 
long at a time in one small house again, being aware 
of our natural infirmities. 

As to the parentage, etc., of the rest, about which you 
enquire — Jameson is, I believe, the son of a wealthy 
brewer in Dublin; he brought out a good capital, in- 
tending to enter into business, but speculated in U. E. 
rights till he found he had gone so deep that he must 
become resident himself. Sawers is a silly boy. His 
father is a Lieutenant of Marines who it seems has 
married a sister of Don Miguel's friend. Sir John 
Campbell. Need's father is I suppose connected in 
some way with that extensive firm of AValker, Parker 
& Co. whose names are spread far and wide as manu- 
facturers of patent shot.* D'Arcos's father, somebody 
told me, is or was Mayor of Cork or Londonderry or 
some such Irish place. Athill's papa is an Irish Dean. 
Captain AVarren I never saw but once. Mr. Frazer was 
of the 42nd ; he is a gentleman and is married to a nice 
little Flemish wife. I know nothing of his parentage; 
but he is a Scotchman and poor, and so of course is 
highly descended. Mr. Wilson is a middle aged man ; 
a very good soul. He is an Irishman, poor, and, they 
tell me, come of decent folk. I also hear that he ruined 
himself by endeavouring to procure a separation for 

* Need's own account of himself, in the preface to Six Years in 
the Bush, is that he graduated at Oxford, with a view to one of 
the learned professions, but a strong desire to try his fortune 
in the West came over him; and his friends, though they did 
not encourage, did not thwart his resolution, but gave him as- 
sistance which enabled him to carry it into execution; which 
assistance appears to have been liberal. 


a sister from a husband who used her ill. He is at 
present superintending Cameron's Falls for Jameson, 
in his absence, but will settle here. Xext year we are 
to have a Mr. Boyce, of the army I believe, of whom 
Jameson speaks highly, and a Captain Dobbs, an 
agreeable, gentlemanly, elderly man of whom I know 
nothing more than that he is reported to be an excel- 
lent chess player, and, what is of much more import- 
ance, to be the father of six daughters. Such is the 
list of the inhabitants of the towmships of Verulam and 

Everything else nmst wait till to-morrow, as my 
candle will barely see me to bed and my fire has already 
expired; rather a strange occurrence, you Avill say, on 
the 10th of January in this much abused climate ; and 
that too in a house the walls of which are still full of 
holes, which admit the light by day and wind enough at 
night to disturb most materially the equanimity of my 

11th. Before proceeding further I must vindicate 
this climate from the calumnies that have been circul- 
ated against it. They say, indeed, that newcomers 
never feel the cold; if so, it is an illustration of the 
saying that "God tempers the wind to the shorn 
lamb" for truly they have to submit to strange lodging. 
But I maintain that Canada is no colder than England, 
whatever the thermometer maj^ say to the contrary. 
True there are other outward and visible signs of cold ; 
the ink freezes in your pen, the lather in your shaving 
brush; the latch of the door sticks to your hand, and 
the water has occasionally frozen in my glass at dinner ; 
but, though the average height of the thermometer in- 
side my dwelling is about a degree below the freezing 
point, I have never been really cold but once, when I 


woke last Sunday at Cameron's Falls in the middle 
of the night and found that Mc Andrew had stolen the 
bed clothes. 

In the other shanty, in which I spent my first six 
weeks, a piece of canvas represented a door and a hole 
in the roof the chimney ; windows were unnecessary in 
such a dwelling, for such were the spaces between the 
logs that, when you were outside at night and the fire 
was bright, the shanty bore a striking similitude to a 
tin lantern* ; every motion inside was visible — just 
such a house as Cato would have wished to live in. 
My bed consisted of two buffalo skins, one above and 
the other below; and empty barrels, chests, etc., served 
the purposes of chairs and tables. Yet in the midst of 
this I never was cold ; and the two colds I have had, in 
consequence of sleeping in warm houses, never lasted 
more than a week. Let anybody look at me now, writ- 
ing without my coat, (for it was only last week I took 
to wearing a coat at all, and even now I only put it on 
after dinner) and dare to say that Canada is a cold 

Having answered all your queries, I must be as 
concise as possible, as I have to walk down to Mc- 
Andrew's this afternoon, whose choppers are going to 
Peterborough to-morrow. My establishment consists 
of two men, chopping by contract, whose shanty is a 
quarter of a mile off and one of whom has a wife who 
washes for me; my man Robert (at eleven dollars per 
month), who has only to-day fairly begun chopping, 
having been employed almost wholly as yet in plaster- 
ing, chimney-building, and other odd jobs about the 
house ; and a boy, William, who, besides cooking, carry- 

* The old fashioned tin lantern was without glass, the light 
streaming from innumerable small punctures in the tin walls. 


ing water, cutting firewood, etc., does a good deal of 
chopping. To these may be added two goats, though 
I am afraid the number will speedily be reduced to 
one, as I have been called aw^ay from my letter this 
morning to give surgical assistance to poor Billy, who 
I think has received his deathwound from the limb of 
a falling tree, which struck him between tlie horns. He 
can walk about a little, and his companion is now most 
affectionately caressing him and smelling at his 
wounded head, but I am afraid his case is a bad one. 
Should he die I will turn his carcass to more use than 
it ever was when living, by trailing it a mile or two over 
the Lake and then spend the night by it, wrapped up in 
a blanket, for a chance of a shot at the wolves. 

Ho sbavato [he appears here to have spilled the ink 
over his letter] — But there is one advantage of the 
frost at least — that ink, if spilt, freezes before it can 
stain much — this looks like an exaggeration, but it is 
a fact. 

It is astonishing what an immense quantity of work 
has to be expended even upon a small log-house before 
it is habitable. I have kept an exact account of our 
labours, and do not find, on a review, that much tinio 
has been lost; but in looking back at the whole I can 
hardly comprehend how three men can have been kept 
constantly at work for two months and a half in fitting 
up a house and a shanty. Mc Andrew, having had a 
carpenter for a month, has decidedly got the start of 
me in comfort, but, having been burnt out at Montreal, 
he does not require so many cupboards, shelves and 
lock-up places, to stow^ away his luggage in, as I do. 
My almost constant work this winter will be carpenter- 
ing. I am no great hand at chopping as yet, having 


had very little practice, but I am often surprised at the 
dexterity with which I wield an axe in fine work, such 
as hewing and squaring logs. 

Amongst my evening studies I may reckon an at- 
tempt to teach myself Indian, by the aid of a trans- 
lation of the Testament ; but, as I have to form my own 
grammar and dictionary as I go on, it is no easy task. 
It is anything but a concise language, as, from some 
specimens, I had at first imagined; a verse in Indian 
generally takes twice as many words as in English; 
and such words! Ten syllables is no unusual length; 
of which the root itself is perhaps only two, the rest 
being prefixes and suffixes, and, if I may coin such a 
word, interfixes ; for two or three syllables seem some- 
times to be thrust in between the disjointed syllables 
of the root — but I will tell you more about it in the 

C enquires about the resources of the country, on 

behalf of a Captain Stuart. Without knowing the 
circumstances, I can only say, in general terms, that 
some part of Canada may be chosen as an advantageous 
settlement for everybody ; but none, except such as have 
an independent income — as half pay officers — or actual 
working farmers, will thrive well in an old settled part. 
The woods, the backwoods, is the- place for everybody 
who has health and enterprise ; and, in point of society, 
I have never heard of any part, \\'ith the exception of 
Blandford in the London district, and Moore, further 
west still, which could compare with the back town- 
ships in the Newcastle district. 

I have had the misfortune to break the main spring 
of my watch, and, in the absence of the sun, have been 
reduced to measure time by the consumption of fire- 


wood and candle (three-and-a-half inches after dark is 
my tea time). This uncertainty of time has set me 
a-meditating upon clocks, and many times I have longed 
for one of those 15/- Dutch clocks which go so well in 

England. If T were coming out, such a thing 

might be sent with him. If I had a watch I should not 
now have been writing almost in the dark, with my 
dinner yet to get and a walk of four-and-a-half miles 
over the Lake yet before me. 

My books too I want out; all at least that appear 
worth the carriage. But above all, I want a companion. 
I must have a dog or I shall be reduced to introducing 
poor Billy into the parlour, notwithstanding his odour. 
A terrier is a good dog and a spaniel is not amiss ; but 
the dog of all dogs for this country — and one which 
can scarcely be procured at all and then only second 
rate — is a hound. Only imagine our living on salt pork 
at 6d. per pound with the knowledge that 200 pounds 
of fat venison is running about close to, if you had but 
a hound to drive him into the Lake; and then fancy 
our longings for such an animal. A foxhound, if he 
has once been hunted, will not take well to deer; but 
there are such things as staghounds, which are some- 
times to be procured by diligent enc^uiries. I once 
mentioned the thing to McAndrew, and he was so 
much taken with the idea of our each having one that I 
have no doubt his first enquiry, when I bring this 
letter, will be, whether I have alluded to the noble 

These things, I am afraid, are only delusions of the 
imagination, but I throw them out as hints for your 
private meditations 


To HIS Father 

York, Feb. 3rd, 1834 

I found so much inconvenience, in my last letter to 
William, from writing without any systematic arrange- 
ment; the multifarious subjects, upon which I had to 
treat, led me into such long digressions; that I must 
return to my old plan of first telling you my personal 
adventures in chronological order, and then of 
answering the numerous queries which your long and 
welcome letter contains. 

The first occurrence of any note, since my letter, was 
an accident of much more importance than that which 
befell poor Bilh', who, by the bye, is recovered. One 
of my choppers had his arm broken by the fall of a 
tree. I was at Mc Andrew's at the time, but upon 
being sent for returned with him and set the arm. I 
was the operator, but was very glad to have Mc- 
Andrew's advice and opinion. The fracture was, 
luckily, above the elbow, and my patient is now 
convalescent and, as far as I can see, the arm is as good 
as ever. 

Up to the 22nd of January, with the exception of this 
accident, I have nothing to record; I was constantly 
employed in carpenter work and increasing the com- 
forts of my house, whilst the chopping was going on 
steadily; but the 22nd was quite an era amongst us. 
I had gone down to McAndrew's to get back some 
tools, and we were looking down the Lake and ad- 
miring its beauties, when we discovered two figures at 
a distance, evidently a white man and an Indian. Never 
having been three months in the backwoods without 
seeing a new face, you cannot enter into our delight, 
and, if you had seen us looking at ourselves in the 


glass and capering about the house, you would have 
taken us for madmen. Our glee indeed was rather 
sobered when we discovered seven other figures on the 
opposite shore and began to meditate upon our ac- 
commodations. To cut the matter short, the party 
presently arrived, consisting of Jameson, whom we 
had imagined in England, Mr. Wilson of Cameron's 
Falls, Mr. Wallis, a friend of McAndrew's and partner 
of Mr. Bellingham to w^hom General Walsh gave me a 
letter, Messrs. Macredie, McCall and Hughes, three 
new arrivals, two Indians and a boy — a pretty con- 
siderable party for the backwoods. However, as the 
most of them had blankets, we contrived to lodge them 
pretty well ; and as to eating, a huge piece of beef with 
turnips (our great luxuries) had been put into the pot 
when we first perceived them. Any wants in the 
establishment were easily overlooked, on account of the 
shameful inhospitality they had met with from our 
neighbours below. I have hinted already at this fault 
in our neighbours, but the present case was far worse 

than any we ever experienced From this sweeping 

censure I must except Need in the present instance — 
he was from home — and D'Arcos, who is very kind 
hearted and does not seem to propose turning savage. 
The next day the whole party visited me. The day 
following we moved up to Cameron 's Falls and took a 
ramble over Cameron's Lake. On the 25th we set out 
for Balsam Lake, which looks even prettier in winter 
than in sununer. Bushwalking in winter is rather 
hard work, particularly for those who like me could not 
get their boots on and w^ere obliged to put up with worn 
out moccasins, which, except for the appearance of the 
thing, is much the same as walking in one's stocking 
feet; but a dinner of porcupine repaid us for all our 


fatigues. It is a most delicious dish, not unlike sucking 
pig, but with much more flavour. The next day we sent 
the two Indians on to Purdy's mills, to get us a sleigh 
on to Peterborough, and we slept once more at Mc- 
Andrew's. He and I had been sometimes talking of 
going down to Peterborough for a few days, and we 
now took the present opportunity of having company 
on the road. 

The next morning early we set out, and so much time 
was taken up in packing, etc., that most of us got no 
breakfast. The Scugog being a very winding river, 
four or five miles are to be saved by cutting through 
the bush in some places, and, the ice being I)ad, the last 
three miles are also through the bush. The tracks of 
our Indians of course were to be our guides, but, there 
having been a considerable fall of snow during the 
night, it was often a matter of great difficulty to dis- 
cover them You will have some idea of the 

fatigue of the walk when I tell you that there was near 
two hours space between the arrival of the first and the 
last of our party, though the distance scarcely exceeds 

ten miles after [all] I doubt whether it is not 

still more fatiguing in summer. 

The rest of our journey to Peterborough was per- 
formed in a sleigh, of which I took the dimensions from 
curiosity, viz., five feet seven-and-a-half inches by two 
feet nine inches, into which seven of us and the driver 
were stowed, and occasionally our two Indians. Con- 
sidering that McAndrew and Macredie are upwards of 
six feet two inches by exact measurement and the other 
four, except Jameson, more than six feet, I think this 
is a specimen of packing from which Mr. Berly might 
have taken a lesson. 


Having staid for a ball at Peterborough I 

rode one of AVallis's horses down to this place. My 
business down here — to get the bonds, etc., of my 
U. E. rights — has been satisfactorily arranged, and I 
might return to my fireside again if my friends here did 
not detain me a little longer. We are in hope of 
acquiring two new neighbours in persons of McCall 
and ^Macredie, and I am remaining here until, having 
seen the owner of a front lot before some land which 
we could procure for them, they will decide whether 
they will purchase or not. In case they do, I am to 
make arrangements for them for building houses, 
clearing land, etc., before the spring, when they will 
come up, making a tour of the west in the meantime. 
To-morrow will probably settle the matter. They are 
both extremely desirable settlers. McCall is a young 
man of some independent income, very quiet and 
gentlemanly and lias been somewhat of a traveller. 
The other not so well off in worldly matters but very 
well informed upon most subjects, very good-natured 
and exceedingly amusing from his simplicity and utter 
ignorance of the wickedness of this world, which in a 
person six feet two-and-a-half inches and upwards is 
more particularly ridiculous. He is acquainted with 
the Hays, as is also Wallis. Hughes, who is not with 
us here, is a Cockney and very amusing in his way ; has 
been in Italy, at Sorrento, etc., etc. ; a great admirer of 
the French and French philosophy, without a particle of 
anything in him deserving the name ; very sentimental ; 
but withal an agreeable person, a German scholar 
moreover and a chess player. He is not yet decided 
as to his location, but it appears not improbable that he 
may buy some of my land and increase our neighbour- 
hood still more. Wallis, who brought them all up to 


us, is quite a first-rate person, but I will say no more 
of him as j^ou will see him in Liverpool soon and judge 
for yourself. He is a much more decided person than 
Jameson and is not likely to disappoint me again; in 
fact I believe he is going to establish a house in Liver- 
pool, in connection with that at Montreal, and has of- 
fered to be instrumental in forwarding my parcels, etc., 
for me.* 

To-day, (the 4th), I have been to see our provincial 
Parliament, wiio certainly are not an imposing body 
and do not seem to be more celebrated for talking to 
the point than their prototypes at home; but in one 
thing they have effected an improvement upon our 
English forms : when a division takes place, the Ayes 
stand up in their places and a little boy calls out their 
names in order, each sitting dowTi as his name is called, 
the Clerk at the table taking their names do^^^l; the 
same is repeated with the Noes, and the lists are then 
handed to the Speaker, who declares the majority. 
Another plan is good : — each member has his o^m seat 
wdth a small desk before it. 

* James Wallis, later of Merino, Peterborough, became a life- 
long friend. He came to Canada in 1832 and engaged in a mer- 
cantile business in Montreal. This first visit to Cameron's Falls 
was no doubt preliminary to a partnership with Mr. Jameson 
which was arranged soon aftei-wards. Together they built a 
saw-mill at the Falls. Mr. Wallis at the same time purchased 
eight or ten thousand acres in the towTiship of Fenelon. The 
mill continued in operation until 1858 when it was burnt down. 
Mr. Jameson was seldom at Fenelon Falls, and he returned before 
long to Liverpool and died there. Mr. Wallis, though he kept 
his house at Fenelon Falls, did not reside there continuously 
after 1840, when he took a house in Peterborough. The super- 
intendence of the mill was in the hands of Major Maclaren. 
Merino, Mr. Wallis's residence at Peterborough was built in 1851, 
when he married Miss Forbes, daughter of Commander Robert 
Millar Forbes, R.N., who settled in Peterborough about 1827. 
His first wife, who was Miss Janet Fisher, appears in these 
letters later. Mr. Wallis died at Merino in May, 1893. 


-1 1- 



'i ^ 

? ^ 



To-morrow I hope to get the affair about the land 
settled, and to call upon the Governor to present him a 
petition upon the subject of a road through our town- 
ship, and then I shall be ready to return home. 

In your remarks upon the relative advantages of my 
township and that of Adelaide, I am surprised that 
such a determined foe to monopolies could imagine for 
a moment that the Canada Co. 's management could be 
an advantage to the latter. The fact is that Adelaide 
does not belong to the Co., but, if it did, from all ac- 
counts it would be in much worse hands than those of 
Government. From what I have heard, from those 
who have been in the Co.'s possessions, they are most 
shamefully neglecting a very fine country, and jobbing 
is there carried on to a much greater extent than in the 
Government districts. Indeed of late years there is 
nothing worthy of the name of a job; every [thing] 
seems to be conducted upon the fairest principles. We 
have certainly more land speculators amongst us, but 
they, especially when they deal in U. E. rights, are 
often an advantage. Jameson, for instance, in order 
to make his speculations answer, must bring at least 
fifty working families into our to"s\Tiship next year, or 
at any rate the following one. As to Adelaide and the 
new western townships in general, I learn from gentle- 
men interested in them and now in York that the want 
of water and pine timber is even more felt than the 
distance from a market. The land I believe to be 
superior to ours, and the winter not so long ; but I am 
perfectly content A\dth what I have got. The locks at 
Bobcajewonunk are constructing, I believe, at the ex- 
pense of the District, assisted by a loan from the Pro- 
vince to almost the whole amount, to be repaid out of 
the tolls. As to the remainder of the conununication, 


the opening of the Trent is an affair which we can 
hardly expect yet. The surveyor is at present engaged 
in making his report, but the result has not yet been 
made public ; I heard however to-day from a very good 
authority that the upper part is to be opened next year, 
so as to extend our inland navigation about thirty 
miles ; the remainder will be a work of great expense, 
and it seems to be the opinion that it mil be carried 
into effect by a company, assisted by Government. In 
the meantime two bills have been brought in to form 
companies for connecting Rice Lake with Cobourg by 
a railroad, and with Port Hope by a canal. I spoke 
the other day with the surveyor and engineer of the 
latter line, who had completed their line within half a 
mile, and both agreed in saying there would be no great 
obstacle to the work. The bill for this canal I think 
almost certain to pass. 

From Sturgeon Lake to Cameron's Lake is a rise of 
about 30 feet, and the land between being limestone 
rock will make the locks expensive — at present they are 
not thought of. From thence to Balsam Lake the rise 
may be about four or five feet, but the river is so 
shallow and the banks so low that the last three- 
quarter of a mile must be a canal. Balsam Lake and 
Lake Simcoe are pretty nearly on a level, and, for 
canoes, only seven miles in one place and three in 
another are portages. The Lake Simcoe people talk 
of opening this by a company ; but, until the Trent or 
the Port Hope Canal [is finished] I do not think there 
will be any work, above Bobcajewonunk, and even these 
I fear our steamer will scarcely pass until late next 

At present you see everything is in embryo ; but, be- 
fore I have any crops to sell, I have no doubt the six 


or seven miles land carriage at Peterborough will be 
all that interrupts my water communication with 

I am not surprised at your feeling uneasy about my 
U. E.'s, as the low price must have given you some 
Tears as to the validity of the title, but be assured they 
^re groundless; the practice of selling them has long 
been permitted by a fiction of the law, and, although 
contrary to the original intentions of the Government, 
the necessity of putting actual settlers on each lot has 
been found to accelerate the settlement of a township 
so much that no obstacle is now throMii in the way of 
it, at least in our part of the Province. 

I have now 400 acres of them in the back of my land, 
for 200 of which I shall be able to get out my deeds next 
summer, in consideration of my own settlement. I 

have also secured the lot intended for B , meaning 

to sell it again to a desirable neighbour ; merely cover- 
ing my own outlay, which is much below what land now 
fetches in Fenelon. 

As to the desponding which you seem to expect I 
shall feel in long winter evenings, I can assure you you 
need feel no alarm; I never felt so little inclined to 
despond in my life. Your fears lest we should grow 
bearish in our manners are, I think, needless — at our 
end of the lake at least ; our dress, of course, is not in 
the style of a to^^^l dandy, but we have agreed to keep 
up a degree of form which sometimes amuses me when 
I look round on the accompaniments of the scene. You 
all seem to run upon the subject of danger, as if we 
were exposed to any here; the fact is, with ordinary 
precaution, there is nothing in the life of a backwoods- 
man which is worthy of the name. Fatigue and incon- 
venience there is in abundance, but danger none, and, 


as far as I have seen of the two former, there is nothing 
which novelty, at present, does not make rather 
pleasant than otherwise, and to which custom here- 
after will [not] reconcile us. 

I must hurry through the rest of your queries in 
order to go and drive a bargain, before dinner, with 
the o^^^ler of the land I wish to purchase for McCall 
and Macredie. 

Our iron stoves are truly detestable; mine I rarely 
use, except when there are more than one in my house ; 
for there is only one warm corner beside the fire. My 
chimney is a most rude hill of stones and mud and 
wood, of a very singular shape, and throws out no 
heat except immediately in front ; but I console myself 
because it draws admirably. 

Y"ou ask about the sturgeon in our lake, but the name 
is a non lucendo. Our Indians, the Missisaugas, were 
originally settled near Niagara, where there are plenty 
of the fish, and, upon coming up here, they gave the 
lake the name it now bears — Name — I know not why. 

You suggest sending me out an assortment of articles 
from England. I do not approve of the plan. The 
difficulties and expense of getting them up would be 
very great ; any trifles we may want we can get from the 
large stores in York, cheaper than we could get them 
np ourselves from Montreal. Pork is our greatest ex- 
pense, and this we shall get cheaper this year, as 
McAndrew and I have ordered thirty barrels between 
ns, which AVallis, who is on his road to Ohio to 
speculate largely in the article, will let us have at 
prime cost. AMiat we do not want ourselves, our 
neighbours will take from us. In the same manner we 
are proposing to do with oxen, which we must get in 


spring. One or other of us will go over to Rochester, 
with a man who knows the points of an ox, and bring 
over six yoke from thence for ourselves and others on 
the Back Lakes. 

Your Almanack must be wrong in the date of our 
land sale ; or more probably there was some confusion 
in my date; for, from the length of my letter, I fre- 
quently take advantage of a spare hour to begin a 
letter, and finish it on a subsequent day ^\^.thout 
notifying the change of date. At any rate I not only 
bought the land in question at 10/- but got my deed for 
it yesterday, being a long parchment document which I 
dare say cost the Government twice as much as they 
received for the land. 

By the bye that reminds me of 5'our long tirade 
against jobbing. Some few snug jobs, in a quiet way, 
no doubt are to be found here as elsewhere, but, as far 
as land is concerned, as Canning said to L. Brougham, 
you have thro^^^l away a most excellent stock of 
indignation; the most sharp-sighted leader of the Op- 
position could find no fault at present. One small 
remnant of a job is all that is to be perceived in our 
back to^\^lships, though the old ones are still suffering 
from the effects of the good old system; the surveyors 
are paid by a percentage of the land and their por- 
tions ought to be chosen by ballot ; but it would seem 
that in this operation Fortune contrived to get one eye 
from under the bandage, for the frontages are gener- 
ally the lots first drawTi. Our towTiship however was 
surveyed as far back as 1826. One other transaction 
annoyed me a good deal, and perhaps I may have 
alluded to it in some of my letters, but I believe that 
jiow we have no cause to complain: — ^(i()\cniiiient of- 


ficers ought, I think, to he incapacitated from specul- 
ating in land, I but the land in question was bought by 
Mr, McDonell fairly at public auction ; and if he got it 
cheap it was simply that no one liked to 'bid against one 
who is so generally liked for a favourite lot. 

Since I mentioned the Parliament before I have paid 
our legislators another visit and have heard a long 
rigmarole from the two leaders of the Opposition ; one 
of them commenced as follows: ''Several Honorable 
gentlemen has rose in this *Ouse" — a very fair sample 
of the whole oration ; I feel myself fast growing a Tory. 
There is a singular incongruity in the tout ensemble 
of the House; the court dress and sword of the 
Sergeant at Arms and the cocked hat of the Speaker 
(instead of a wig) all seem as if intended to look im- 
posing; but the appearance of the members themselves, 
writing their letters or reading their newspapers at 
their several desks, whilst a little boy is running about, 
bringing them plates of sandwiches, etc., reminded one 
much of a coffee house. During the whole of the five 
or six speeches I listened to, not a single member ap- 
peared to think of anything but his own business ; and, 
when one speaker sat down and another rose, very few 
even condescended to look up from their papers, to see 
who it might be. 

I am just going out again to endeavour to get my two 
friends settled and will keep the letter open to tell you 
of the result. 

After lingering about the government offices all day, 
I have at last put the thing into a train which I hope 
will be successful ; Macredie at any rate I think 

The Port Hope Canal Bill has passed both Houses- 


To HIS Father 

Fenelon, Feb. 2, 1834 

I forget whether I told you that I had traced the 
owner of the land I was in quest of to a person residing 
in Niagara. McCall and Macredie were going there, 
and certainly they might have enquired after the land 
themselves, but they seemed so undecided that I was 
afraid to lose sight of them, and then on their return, 
if they had detennined on the thing, they would have 
nobody to assist them in getting choppers, etc. In 
short, after some deliberation I decided to accompany 
them, and with Wallis we set off in a waggon and 
reached Hamilton the second day. That evening Wallis 
and I went to Dundas. As you are so full of geology 
I suppose I must make some remarks upon the subject. 
Of course you have heard of the theory that Lake 
Ontario was formerly much above its present level; 
indeed I cannot conceive how any one, who has seen the 
extensive plain sixty or seventy feet or more above the 
Lake which is bounded by a most remarkable ridge, 
clearly traced from some 20 miles east of York to 
Niagara and thence to Kochester, can doubt of it. The 
Lake in those days must have had a very deep bay at 
Hamilton, for the ridge there runs back into the 
countr}^ a long way, forming an extensive valley of 
from two to three miles broad in which Dundas is 
situated. Downi the plain between these ridges run 
three or four deep ravines winding through it and 
constantly crossing the roads. At the bottom of these 
is again a smaller plain w4th a stream winding through 
it, a perfect counterpart of the larger plain and ravines. 
I should imagine this betokens two distinct descents 
of the Lake; perhaps there was one still earlier, for 


the land on the top of the great ridge is almost a 
dead level for msmy miles until bounded by the higher 
land behind and is scarcely above the level of Lake 
Erie. If the two were ever joined what a magnificent 
Fall there must have been in those days somewhere 
on the St. Lawrence. Niagara looks as grand as ever — 
perhaps grander from its gigantic icicles, but the sur- 
rounding scenery loses most of its charms. 

The next day we returned having been six days on our 
tour. Wallis went on to Ohio. The land after all was 
not to be had, but McCall determined to buy the front 
and be contented with the remainder of his land be- 
hind at some distance. At York we found Jameson, 
and all returned together, I with Jameson in his sleigh 
and the other two driving up Wallis 's. Sleighing 
surely is not the correct name for the mode of travel- 
ling that day ; there has been no snow on the ground for 
ten days and six inches of mud did not make up for 
the loss; however we proceeded in hopes of reaching 
Windsor* whence we proposed [blank in the original] 
back by the Scugog. But after eighteen miles walking 
alongside of our sleighs it grew dark and we were 
obliged to put up at a tavern in Pickering. From here 
we struck back into Uxbridge, having some tolerable 
sleighing after the first ten miles from the Lake. The 
next day one of our sleigh runners, being worn out by 
the bare roads, gave way and detained us so long that 
we could only reach a miserable farmhouse in Brock. 
The following day on the confines of Mariposa we 
broke down in such a way that no blacksmith could 
ramp us up again. Committing the pole and our lug- 
gage to the other sleigh we mounted the horses until 
after five or six miles we fell in with a sort of vehicle 

* The former name of Whitby. 


called a jumper which we purchased for the enormous 
sum of half a dollar. With our pole which we strapped 
on and a basket of mine for a seat we considered our- 
selves fortunate and drove in grand style to Purdy's 
Mill that night. You will not form any very high idea 
of a jumper from the price we gave, but I can assure 
you it is a most admirable conveyance and most pro- 
perly called a jumper. Why it should ditfer so much 
from other sleighs I do not know but a better practice 
for learning a hunting seat cannot be imagined. It 
sticks at nothing; wherever the horses can scramble the 
jumper can leap after them. We certainly fell off sev- 
eral times at first but at last we gained such confidence 
that, approaching Purdy's Mills, we resolved to show 
off, and putting the horses to full speed, successfully 
cleared a sawlog or two and a heap of firewood and 
finally deposited ourselves in the mud just opposite 
Purdy 's door, to the no small amusement of a crowd of 
bystanders. Next day we continued our journey, but 
had not proceeded three miles when it became evident 
that we had trusted too much to the jumping powers 
of our carriage ; its best days were clearly over — one of 
the runners was on its last legs ; no blacksmith however 
was required here ; an axe and an auger were all the 
tools wanted and in about an hour we started again, 
though from our inexperience of the art of carriage 
building the runner was but weakly. We now no longer 
went out of our way to jump logs but with all our care 
we broke down once more, and as the other sleigh had 
gone on we were obliged once more to take to our 
horses leaving our luggage behind. Two or three and 
twenty miles on bare backs with the additional pleasure 
of harness were enough to teach us for the future not 
to jump too high, and though I shall not cease to up- 


hold the excellence of jumpers I will be content with 
exhibiting them on a level road and not attempt to clear 
sawlogs again. 

On arriving at Peterborough we found a Bachelors' 
Ball in preparation which went off with great eclat. 
I certainly never expected on coming to Canada that I 
should be one of the Bachelors who gave a ball to 
between eighty and ninety, and meet with two of the 
best waltzers I ever figured with. A tremendous 
thunderstorm luckily coming on we kept it up with 
unabated vigour till dajdight, as there are no covered 
carriages in Canada. After the ball, McAndrew and I 
with our new neighbours hired a sleigh to Purdy's and 
the same day reached his house soon after dark. The 
next morning early I set out in hopes of finding my 
people in bed, but upon more mature consideration 
dawdled by the way in order to find them at break- 
fast. I arrived about eight but it seems I had been dis- 
covered on the Lake, the bird I wanted to find had flown. 
My house had been opened in my absence upon the 
plea that my property was getting damaged in conse- 
sequence of the wet getting in during the thaw. 
Yesterday I made no remark but I made my own re- 
searches and persuaded the man whose arm I set to 
tell me what had been going on, and the result is this : — 
My gun and one of my buffalo robes have been used 
and my skates are at this moment in my worthy 
servant's box; about one pound of tea and two of sugar 
have evaporated ; my whiskey has been tapped, to what 
extent I know not; and what is the worst of all, and 
what I expected, having dreamt of it at Niagara, I 
have been keeping a great Scotchman for three weeks 
and he had not left my shanty five minutes when I 
arrived. The King's evidence is not to be brought in 


if possible and my owii discoveries are not very im- 
portant but I have great hopes of the skates bringing 
something to light. To-morrow morning I shall hold a 
court of inquiry and dismiss them both immediately. 
The boy I may dismiss at once, but the man is en- 
gaged till the 1st of ^[ay. If I can bring all home to 
him of course I need not pay him his wages beyond 
to-day; but, if my man will not inform, I can only 
bring positively the opening my house and using my 
gun and buffalo robe home to him, and I question 
whether he may not compel me; at any rate he shall 
sue me for it, but I have great hopes in the skates. 
Whatever may be the result of my judicial labours to- 
morrow they must both go and I do not mean to have 
another servant till the new emigrants begin arriving 
when I shall take a man and his wife. My choppers 
are going down in a week or so and will not be back 
till the end of next month but I care little for that; 
I have lived long enough in the woods to be quite con- 
tented alone, my washing being the only thing I have an 
objection to do myself, and that I can get done by 
Mc Andrew's woman. I shall bake bread and boil a 
mess of potato soup twice a week, and the latter 
warmed up and cold pork will satisfy me; chopping 
firewood will be a pleasant variety. McAndrew will 
come over occasionally to see if I am alive and I shall 
invite McCall and Macredie to spend a day or two and 
initiate them into some of the mysteries of the back- 
woods. I rather enjoy the thoughts of the thing, but 
nevertheless I wish I had a dog. To-morrow I shall 
give you more particulars ; I must now turn my atten- 
tion to airing my bed, for last night, after my work was 
done, I was so sleepy that I preferred a blanket on the 


floor, being the IStli night since I had my clothes off 
save one intervening night. 

March 7th, 1834. The day after I concluded my last 
I got rid of my establishment without having to call in 
any evidence. The skates, it seems, had been borrowed 
by the boy and taken from him by the man to hold over 
him in terrorem in case he told tales. A mutual 
recrimination, when they were asked for, let out many 
secrets ; so I paid them their Avages and dismissed them 
at once, no objections being made. I am sorry for the 
boy who I believe was only in fault as to going out 
skating one day, but I could not have kept him alone. 
It seems that the very day I went away my house was 
broken open. Ever since I have been alone, with the 
exception that the day before yesterday the three Macs 
came to dine with me. I cannot say I am tired of my 
solitude yet, though the washing up and the baking of 
bread are not occupations for which I feel any fond- 
ness ; however I dare say I shall have enough of it be- 
fore I get a servant again. 

"WTien I left off at the end of the former sheet I 
imagined that I had a great deal more to say, but I can 
only remember now one commission. Indian corn 
though the most profitable crop that there is when it 
succeeds has, particularly of late years, failed so gen- 
erally throughout Canada on account of the late frosts 
that it is but seldom growm. Now I remember Mr. 
Parr speaking of a variety which they grcAv in the 
north of Italy which from its only requiring about 
fifty days to come to maturity he called I think 
^'Cinquantaria." If by means of him or of any one 
else 3^ou could procure me some seed, I think you might 
not only benefit me but the whole of Canada — a glory 
which I think should recompense you for your trouble. 

Life on The Farm 

LETTERS OF 1834 AND 1835 
To HIS Father 

Fenelon, April 4th, 1834 

The great disadvantage of being at such a distance, 
after that of not seeing you, is that even by letter one 
cannot satisfactorily carry on a conversation. This 
truism has been elicited from me by the perusal of your 
letter of the 10th of December, which only reached me 
last week. The letter in answer to which you wrote was 
written I believe at the end of October, and it con- 
veyed, I have no doubt, an accurate representation of 
my ideas and feelings at the time of writing ; but your 
answer finds me with five months greater experience 
of the country and with views and feelings altered in 
many respects. "VVe do not converse upon equal 
grounds ; and I may add that during five months I have 
forgotten many things to which I alluded in my previ- 
ous letter and hardly understand your allusions to them 
in your answer. I am sure that my letters must often 
appear to be full of inconsistencies, at least if the}" are 
at all faithful pictures of my mind at the several times 
of writing; for the earlier ones were written of course 
in very considerable ignorance of the subjects I treated 
of, and the new lights which break in upon me from 
time to time often make great changes in my modes of 
thinking. In reading over my journal of my first 
months in Canada I have been surprised at the errors 
into which I have fallen ; my letters home, being written 




at greater intervals, will I dare say be more correct; 
but still I have no doubt you will have detected the 
inconsistencies to which I allude Upon the sub- 
ject of my house, the plan will stand thus: — 

a Entrance, 
-| h Workshop, 
c Sitting room, 
d Bedroom, 
e Store room, 
from which are the 
entrances to the 
cellar and loft, 
/ Bedroom, a great 
part of which will 
be occupied mth 
my chests, trunks, 
etc., and cupboards 
to hold linen and 
other articles. The 
roof of the house 
is now simply of 
boards, not imbri- 
cated but nailed on 
lengthwise, and a 
copious admission 
of rain is the conse- 
quence. As soon as the business of the barn is over I 
mean to get the roof shingled. The new roof and a 
fresh coat of mud in the interstices of the logs is all 
that I shall do, as I look upon it only as a temporary 
habitation for a couple of years, for, from the hurry 
I was in, it is but a poor affair and not worth any 
alterations, and besides is not in the situation which 
would be most desirable. 



Interior of Cottag-e looking North 

Interior of Cottage looking South 

— Drawings bv Anee Lang'ton 


Y^oiir observations upon servants generally are 
pretty correct, but I do not, as far as I have yet seen 
in my own and other establishments, see much dif- 
ficulty in managing them; but here as in everything 
else in medio Uitissimiis is the only rule. The work- 
ing classes here naturally feel an independence which 
you do not find at home, and which, if you give way 
as some do, will soon lead them to consider themselves 
your equals; others again, by endeavouring to keep 
them under as they call it, only give rise to insolence 
and make themselves cordially hated. But I have never 
seen any yet who by a quiet reserve of manner cannot 
be kept respectful. At particular moments and with 
particular characters you may unbend occasionally and 
thereby make yourself liked without losing any 
authority. The art of managing servants is perhaps 
the most important one a new settler has to learn; I 
do not mean to say I am perfect in it, but when I say 
that, out of the seven people I have at different times 
had, I never found any difficulty except with one, you 
must not suppose me the worst manager ; and he who 
did give me annoyance was in all important matters 
managed easily enough, but in trifles and when not at 
work too much inclined to be free and easy, w^hich 
considering that we had lived in the same shanty for 
six weeks and that I for a great part of the time had 
acted the menial part of cook, scullion, etc., is not much 
to be wondered at. 

I think all your questions about my land have been 
answered in my former letters, but I will tell you what 
new discoveries I have made. In the first place I must 
explain to you how the land is surveyed, to make you 
understand the difficulty of — what may appear to you 
a simple affair — ascertaining the boundaries of a lot. 


Starting at the base of a township the surveyor 
runs the concession lines by compass, blazing the trees 
here and there along the line, and planting a post at 
the points where the imaginary lines which divide the 
lots cross the concessions. The concession lines run 
N. 17y2° W. and the side lines I am told are not exactly 
perpendicular. The shores of the lake are surveyed in 
a very slovenly manner, so that no dependence can be 
placed in the supposed contents of the broken fronts, 
and the position of the creeks, etc., appears to be laid 
down merely by guess. Now walking through the bush 
at the best is hard work and in a swamp where the 
fallen trees lie upon one another in double and treble 
tiers and you can with difficulty see ten or twenty yards 
before you, it is not easy to proceed at a greater rate 
than a mile an hour. Moreover the blazes are now, I 
believe, eleven years old, many of the blazed trees are 
fallen, and in others the bark has covered up the 
wound; in difficult places they are generally very 
sparingly and irregularly scattered ; add to which that 
many of the posts have entirely disappeared, and you 
will have some idea of the difficulty of the operation . . . 

^^^en I first came up I was fortunate enough to 
stumble upon the line between X and XI and the post 
between lots fifteen and sixteen, and with this guide I 
commenced building on the best situation I could find 
on what I knew must be my land. I had promises from 
two diiferent surveyors during the winter to come up 
and run the lines, but neither made their appearance ; 
and trusting to their coming and deterred by the dif- 
ficulty of wading through three feet of snow whilst 
everything you touch precipitates a deluge of the same 
material down the back of your neck from the branches 
above, I never did anything towards surveying during 


the winter. Thus when I last wrote I knew nothing 
further of my possessions than at my first arrival.* 
During this last fortnight, however, I have taken ad- 
vantage of the fine weather which has cleared off most 
of the snow, whilst the ice on the swamps is still strong 
enough to bear one — at any rate oftener than it lets 
one through into the water — and I have gained much 
more definite ideas than I formerly possessed. 

I first discovered the boundary line of the two town- 
ships — no easy matter when your only chance is to 
take a walk through a thick forest in the hopes of 
seeing a tree from which a piece of bark about the size 
of your two hands has been cut eleven years ago (or 
nine — I don^t know the date to a certainty) and these 
trees scattered in a line at twenty or thirty yards apart. 
However, I found it and pursued it a considerable 
distance both to the north and south but without find- 
ing a post, and with the other line which I had found 
in autumn I was not more successful. I now adopted 
a more tedious but surer plan; inviting Maeredie to 
stay with me I started from the post I already knew, 
and measuring the line carefully I found the fourteenth 
post, the extreme south of my land; then striking off 
to the east by compass I fell in wdth the boundary line, 
and finding the fourteenth post after a minute search, 
rooted up and leaned against a tree at some distance 
from the line, we measured on again and successfully 
ascertained the position of the other posts as far as 
my land went. The result of this examination was in 
many respects far from satisfactory and left still much 
to be ascertained The next step towards an 

* It seems that the remarks, at the beginning of the letter, 
about the difficulty of conversing at a distance, were drawn forth 
by a criticism, in the letter he is answering, upon his having 
bought his land without having ascertained its boundaries. 


accurate knowledge of my land was to resurvey the 
shore, in which there is certainly in one place an error 
and upon the correctness of which of course the con- 
tents of my broken front will depend. For this pur- 
pose I manufactured an instrument to serve me as a 
theodolite which of course was but a rude instrument 
and I consequently felt doubtful of the accuracy of my 
observations, but when upon calculating them I found 
that one distance which I measured by two perfectly 
independent sets of triangles, as a test, turned out by 
one 923.6 yards and by the other 925.4 I began to place 
as much reliance upon my survey as upon the Gov- 
ernment maps. From these data I have drawn a map 
of the coast, but from not having ascertained with 
precision at what points the concession and side lines 
strike the Lake I cannot at present correct them. All 
this looks very easy on paper, but in practice, in- 
cluding a long day's post hunt for Mr. Wilson, and 
another expedition to run the line between X and XI S. 
to the Lake as a guide to McAndrew, it took up a whole 
fortnight and so completely deranged the regularity of 
my hours that one day we did not breakfast till twelve 
and dined at nine. 

Since I have been left to myself my motions have 
been as like clockwork as those of a man who has no 
watch can be. I rise at an hour varying from five to 
seven. Having dressed I clean the house whilst the 
kettle is boiling and after breakfast I smoke a cigar 
and read as long as it lasts; I then wash up the ac- 
cumulated plates, etc., of the twenty-four hours and set 
to work at chopping firewood, joinering or whatever 
may be in hand at the time. At an hour before sunset, 
which I have come to calculate very accurately, I begin 
cooking, bringing in a pile of firewood, sweeping out 


the house, etc., in the intervals; and I rarely fail to 
have finished my dinner just as it gets dark. Another 
cigar's time is then devoted to meditation and diges- 
tion, and after reading, writing or sewing for half a 
candle, I go to bed. My baking, which is performed in a 
frying pan before the fire, requires constant attention, 
so I superintend that in the evening, having kneaded 
the dough during my cooking hour. In such a mode of 
life there is nothing to occupy the space of a letter, 
and here at Mc Andrew's where, as there is no one left 
to endanger the sanctity of my dwelling, I have been 
spending a week, we are quite as methodical. He and 
I, who sleep on the floor, rise at 5.30, Macredie and 
McCall, who as strangers have the beds, are loath to 
get up before seven, and then till dinner we pursue 
our several avocations, which have not been interrupted 
by any amusing variety, except one day having the 
house on fire and another when we sallied out on a 
fruitless chase after four wolves, from whom we 
succeeded, however, in rescuing the carcass of a deer 
which they had just run down and which we conveyed 
home in triumph, and have feasted on venison ever 
since. This is the second deer Avhich our hounds have 
run dovni for us this winter. 

My journal therefore must be prospective. To-mor- 
row I go home to make preparations for the rest who 
are to dine with me on my birthday, and to superintend 
an interesting event which is about to take place with 
my venerable nanny-goat, who will now, I hope, supply 
me with milk. As soon as the lakes break up I go to 
York or, as it is now named in the Act for incorporat- 
ing it, Toronto, from whence I am to convey to "\Miitby 
an extremely miscellaneous assortment of articles for 
our end of the lake, each bearing his share of my ex- 


penses; thence returning by Peterborough I am to 
meet the rest and help to bring up our new scow. The 
lake has not yet broken up, though the ice is very 
precarious in the middle of the day, but it cannot last 
more than a week. Nothing can exceed the beauty of 
the weather for this last month, once or twice for a 
day there has been heavy rain, but the rest has been 
the most delightful weather I ever experienced, with no 
mosquitoes to annoy one ; it is almost worth coming to 
Canada to experience such a month. Since I have 
been here the door has been open from sunrise to sun- 
set, though the lake lies in one unbroken sheet of ice 
within a few feet of us. The ducks are already crowd- 
ing the rapids, the geese are daily going further north 
and in a few days we shall be in the midst of a northern 
spring; with it unfortunately will come hea^'7' rains 
and mosquitoes, but we must be content — it is not to 
be expected that we should have such days as this of 
which you have no idea in England, without some of the 
drawbacks from which you are exempt. To-morrow I 
believe this letter is to set off to meet "Wallis. I must 
now stop and go to chop by the orders of my methodical 
host — if I find anything more to say I will [use] the 
remaining space to-night. 

April 7th. Nothing new has occurred. The ice 
being very ticklish, McAndrew and I went on a 
reconnoitering expedition, I first, to try the strength, 
and he behind me, to throw himself on his face to 
assist me if I went through. This did not occur, but, 
as it was so rotten as to allow us to sink over shoe- 
tops as if in snow, we decided upon not going to my 
house and I kept my birthday here. To-day the ice 
has made very decided demonstrations of breaking up, 
having become detached at the edges, and the day after 


to-morrow I expect to go home in mv canoe, which in 
contemplation of such an occurrence I dragged over 
the ice .... 

I ^dsh my mother would send me one or two plain 
receipts for preserving. We have plenty of wild 
raspberries, plums and cranberries, and I have found a 
few gooseberry bushes. Living as we do almost ex- 
clusively on salt pork some acids are much wanted. I 
have had a great longing for them all winter but my 
health has not suffered; some people break out in boils. 
I have made no sugar this spring, partly from having 
too many things to attend to and partly because I have 
been informed that, unless you have several women and 
children to attend to the trees, it did not pay. I have 
now changed my opinion and next spring I will make 
a good ciuantity. It is very good but has a slight bitter- 
ness — not at all disagreeable — and the molasses is 
much better than that from the cane — not unlike rather 
insipid honey. 

To HIS Father 
' Cobourg, April 25, 1834 

I arrived here from the city of Toronto at four 
o'clock thi:: morning and as I cannot find conveyance to 
Peterborough till to-morrow I am going to employ my 
vacant time and vent my spleen in letter writing. But 
before I indulge in a tirade against the whole monet- 
ary system of this Province I must bring up my 
journal to the present time. 

On the 8th of April then (I think I got you up to the 
7th) the ice commenced loosening so much at the edges 
that we, like boys just escaping for the holidays, went 
upon it with long poles and amused ourselves for some 
hours in breaking it up and driving the broken pieces 
under the main body so as to form a narrow channel 


along shore into which we could launch mv canoe for 
the sole purpose of giving Macredie an upset. This 
may seem ridiculous enough to you, but if you had 
the lake closed with ice for five months you would have 
enjoyed once more the sight of a little open water. 

The 9th. Having heard that the lake was open at 
the mouth of the Scugog I went through the bush to 
where McAndrew's boat had been left and explored the 
limit of the ice but found it unbroken in that direction. 
On my return at three in the afternoon I saw at about 
five miles off down the Lake a floating tree which 
indicated open water there, and, as a smart wind blew 
from that quarter, it rapidly advanced, and before we 
went to bed we had the pleasure of hearing the weaves 
breaking upon the shores. The next morning there was 
not a piece of broken ice the size of your hand to be seen 
but it still remained firm from Sturgeon Point to the 
westward so as to stop my return by water. I em- 
barked, however, in my canoe with three of Mc- 
Andrew's men and landing on the opposite shore 
reached my house by land. At sunset that evening 
there was not a particle of ice from Cameron's Falls 
to Bobcajewonunk, and such is the rapidity with which 
spring comes, that the same day which w^itnessed the 
last of the ice produced the first flower, the first 
mosquito and the first black fly I had seen. I have 
been the more particular about the events of these few 
days because the ice is a subject of as much importance 
to us as the River Mersey is to Liverpool. 

[The men from McAndrew's were borrowed to 
clear up round his house as a preparation of safety 
for the burn, which was part of the choppers' contract 
and might be carried out by them during his absence 
in Toronto. This and other operations, such as getting 


down their oxen whicli had arrived at Purdy's, con- 
sumed the time until the 18th when, as agent for the 
four neighbours, he started for Toronto, which by 
way of canoe to Peterborough, steamboat to Rice Lake, 
stage to Cobourg, and steamboat again on Lake 
Ontario he reached on the 22nd.] 

And now begin mj^ griefs. To meet the purchases I 
was to make I was the bearer of two drafts from Mc- 
Call and Macredie, the former on Y'ork accompanied by 
a letter of credit, the other ought to have been cashed 
for me in Peterborough, but this I soon saw was im- 
possible. Cash at all times is a most rare article in 
Canada and now that the disordered state of the United 
States banks has throwTi us all into confusion things 
have come to such a pass that people of known pro- 
perty refuse pajTnent to their own bills with as much 
coolness as a dandy puts off his dunning tailor. And 
to make matters worse, Mr. Bethune, the great man of^ 
our district, has just been declared a bankrupt; his 
failure is very severely felt, many of the monied emi- 
grants have placed their funds with him and he has 
been a sort of sa\dngs bank for the poorer class. For 
some time he has been refusing payment, but the store- 
keepers believing him sound have been taking orders on 
him in cash and they are consequently taken in too. 
How he may wind up I cannot form an idea. One class 
hold him up as everything that is honourable, noble 
and generous, and they say his debts do not amount to 
£20,000 and that he can show undoubted security for 
£60,000. The other class doubt this much and don't 
scruple in private to call him a rascal. Many believe 
that it was he himself who robbed the Bank of U. C. of 
the £3,000 which were missing last autumn, when he 
was the cashier of its branch here. I know but little 


of him personally, but he is an agreeable and gentle- 
manly person, and, thongh his omti interest was doubt- 
less at the bottom of it, has done more for the New- 
castle district than any other living man. Be all this 
however as it may I do not believe that Sir Eichard 
Arkwright himself could have raised £20 in Peter- 
borough and Cobourg. 

Still trusting to McCall's draft and some cash of my 
owTi I went on to Toronto, and after being put off for 
an hour or two on the plea of the cashier being absent, 
I was at length bowed out of the bank with the assur- 
ance that the names were perfectly good, but, etc., etc. 
In short the bank will not discount a halfpenny, and I 
got no money ; so after spending the morning in making 
purchases of such things as appeared more immediate- 
ly necessary, as far as I could spare the cash, I the next 
day embarked for this place, and mean to hasten back 
to the woods there to vegetate as well as I may until 
better times. To add to my melancholy this morning I 
have heard that during my absence Mr. Ferguson, the 
most respectable storekeeper and the kindest-hearted 
and best man in Peterborough, died suddenly after a 
few hours' illness; his loss w^ll be greatly felt, by none 
more than by us backwoodsmen to whom his house was 
always a home when they came down to Peterborough. 

Unless some radical change is made in the money 
matters of this country it will not be a country to live 
in. Property there is in abundance but no representa- 
tive of it, and the former increases in much more rapid 
proportion than the latter, so that we are getting worse 
every day. A metallic currency I am afraid cannot be 
established amongst us yet as the balance of trade is 
so decidedly against us with the States, but a much 
more extended paper currency must be issued or there 


will soon be a stop to all business. The bank issues 
are not half sufficient for the wants of the country, and 
they are under great restrictions in this respect from 
Government, but above all they are a monopoly. When 
they are refusing discount to every one else, the di- 
rectors and their friends find favour in their sight ; they 
are a monopoly, not by statute but by the circumstances 
of the country. There are few men in Canada with 
capital sufficient to establish a private banking house 
of any extent and these few have their capital so locked 
up in mills, steamboats, land-speculations, etc., that 
they cannot attempt it. And as for joint stock banks 
that was tried and failed last session. It passed the 
lower house indeed but a majority of the Legislative 
Council are either bank directors or shareholders and 
they threw it out. A private bank — or more — must be 
established with English capital and I think the 
country holds out the fairest prospects to them. Pro- 
perty, as I said before, there is in abundance — much 
more property and more generally diffused than in 
England in proportion. There is scarcely a man in 
Canada who has not tangible property of some kind 
and our Kegister offices prevent any fraud in this 
respect, as no deed or mortgage is valid that is not 
registered. During several years that Mr. Bethune 
was cashier of the Cobourg branch, though the dis- 
counts were then much more freely given than of late 
years, delay indeed frequently occurred, from the want 
of a circulating medium, but during the whole of that 
time the actual loss upon discounted bills was only 
£200 or £300. When the risk is so small, six per cent, 
offers, I think, a temptation. Then, if a low rate of 
interest were allowed on deposits, all that specie which 
yearly comes out from England with the emigrants to 


be locked up in their chests would be deposited ydih 
any substantial bank and all the remittances to and 
drafts on England would pass through their hands. 
The exorbitant profits on exchange which the bank 
exacts have thrown all that business where practicable 
into the hands of the Montreal merchants, '\\lien ex- 
change was at five per cent, at Montreal not more than 
one and one-half or two could be obtained at Cobourg 
and in one case I know that only par was obtained. 
The bank have found their monopoly pretty profitable, 
twenty-six per cent, having been divided last year. I 
do not wonder at the Legislative Council throwing out 
the Bill for establishing a joint stock bank at Cobourg. 
In a former letter I remember saying I was growing 
a Tory — I feel myself fast approaching to Radicalism 
again, but not of that sort of which that little factious 
wretch Mackenzie is leader. I don't know whether you 
ever heard of him; he has been lately over in England 
with a budget full of grievances and we here think he 
has been making a great noise ^^'ith you; when I first 
came out the first question everybody asked me was — 
*'AVhat do they think of Mackenzie in England?" and 
I was stared at when I said I had never heard of him. 
He is a little red-haired man about five feet nothing 
and extremely like a baboon but he is the 'Connell of 
Canada. They have expelled him from the House of 
Assembly and elected him Mayor of the City of Tor- 
onto. But to return to banking — it has been some 
time reported that some of the London nobs are going 
to send out a house and that the buildings are already 
purchased in Toronto — I was just going to say the 
ground was purchased, but then you might have 
imagined it proposed to send the house out ready built 
from London — a speculation so singular that it might 


have made you look mth suspicion on the whole re- 
port. This may do something for us — God knows we 
need it. 

In one of your letters, if not your last, you express 
some apprehension about my canoe. Now a canoe* is 
certainly a little light affair that you can carry for a 
mile or two upon your shoulders and which a single 
false step in embarking or disembarking will upset, 
but it will carry half a dozen men in safety over a 
stormy lake and when you get accustomed to the craft 
you feel as steady as in a seventy-four. Indeed the 
other day, so much does habit make one unconsciously 
keep one's balance, that though I attempted it fre- 
quently I could not upset my canoe when Macredie was 
out with me in it, and it was not till I had got out that 
his awkwardness in attempting to do the same enabled 
me to give him the desired ducking. Indeed there is 
only one case, except by gross carelessness, in which 
there is any danger in a canoe, viz., if you bring her 
broadside to the sea in rough weather, when she is 
very apt to swamp. A boat is in most cases a pre- 
ferable craft, you can carry a greater load, you need 
not handle it like a new-born baby, you go quicker and 
defy all winds. In a canoe unless the wind is dead aft 
it is always in your way, particularly if alone, and even 
with the greatest care she is constantly getting a leak. 
But then in fine weather she is so easily launched, and 
paddled with such ease and silence if you want to steal 
upon a duck, etc. You cannot take a boat upon your 
shoulders and carry it over any obstacle such as 
Cameron's Falls or the pitch at Bobcajewonunk, and 
in coming up even a practicable rapid in a boat you 
may indeed put out your whole strength, but you have 

* A bark canoe. 


to keep the middle of the stream with barely room often 
to ply your oars, whereas in a canoe you may go any- 
where which will admit the narrow bark itself, and 
steal up the sides of the stream taking advantage of the 
eddy caused by every stone and stump, and by step- 
ping out with one foot keep her floating in two inches of 
water. Each has its owti advantage and I have both to 
use as occasion may require. 

I shall be very glad to give you a paper for the Lit. 
and Phil. Soc. if anything occurs worth noticing; per- 
haps you can suggest some point upon which my 
limited experience mil enable me to hold forth to them, 
and I will direct my attention to it. If you belonged to 
the Manchester set I could give you Aurora Borealis 
enough to surfeit even old Dr. Dalton 

My space is growing so limited that I must be 
laconic, but the honey must not be forgotten. I might 
indeed collect a keg of the molasses of the maple sugar, 
and having flavoured it with wild herbs I might make 
honey such as my father loveth, but I am afraid you 
would detect the cheat; real honey I cannot promise. 
The honey bee is not a native of N. America and, 
though numerous swarms have established themselves 
in the woods and have become naturalized on the con- 
fines of civilization in the "Western States, I hear of 
none in Canada; I even shall find difficulty in pro- 
curing the hives which I mean to locate on Sturgeon 
Lake ; if their produce turns out to be deserving of the 
carriage you may depend upon the first fruits 

To HIS Father 

Fenelon, May 24, 1834 

[The previous letter was written from Cobourg on 

his way home from Toronto. This gives an account of 


the joniney from Peterborough, the little adventures 
of which are so characteristic of such journeys that it 
is a pity to omit them.] 

Early on the 29th, I set off, accompanied by Edward 
Caddy, a very nice lad who is living with a brother 
settled in Douro, and we had a prosperous voyage till 
we got to Pigeon Lake, where of course there was a 
high wind and of course against us. About the middle 
of the lake Caddy, who had never been in a canoe be- 
fore, got the cramp from his kneeling position and I 
had hard work for half an hour to keep us from retro- 
grading whilst he was recovering. In consequence of 
this and a subsequent rest when we got under shelter of 
the other shore, Mr. Frazer, who was in company with 
us in a boat, got an hour's start of us ; but about a mile 
below Bobcajewonunk we came up with them; they had 
been beaten back ten different times from one point in 
the river by the current. We in the canoe got up 
easily, and, meeting one of the choppers at the tavern, 
I sent him down to their assistance, but Mrs. Frazer 
had to be left in the bush until her husband returned 
to fetch her up by land. Sturgeon Lake is hardly a 
place for ladies yet. 

As there was not enough daylight left to get our 
canoe up the rapids, we were obliged to spend a long 
evening at the tavern, which was unusually full in 
consequence of a house-raising in the neighbourhood; 
the dimensions of the building (the tavern) are twelve 
feet by twenty-two, in which space twenty-three human 
souls, including three married couples and two un- 
married females found sleeping room. Mr. and Mrs. 
I^razer, I must observe, walked on to Sawers' 

[Some cold weather in May, a little later, is also 
worth recording, as a part of a visit to Peterborough.] 


The 8th, we [three guests with McAndrew, McCall 
and himself] left McAndrew 's in two boats and, call- 
ing at Mr. Frazer's on the way, we reached Bob- 
cajewonunk before nine, and sent back my boat witli a 
family whom McAndrew had engaged to chop for me 
in Peterborough. 

The steamer w^as just starting on her first trip of the 
season and we raced with her down Pigeon Lake, keep- 
ing ahead of her all the way to Billy McQue's where 
we stopped a while. As we were six in the boat and 
could only pull tvro oars you may imagine what her 
speed is. We got to Peterborough to dinner. From 
then to the thirteenth, we remained in Peterborough 
making purchases, which until then we could not get 
carried out to Chemong Lake. On the fourteenth, we 
w^ere ready to start when lo! there were icicles three 
feet long hanging from the houses, snow' four inches 
deep, and sleighs going about as if in winter. There 
never was such weather on record; lucky it is for those 
who have no crops growing. I don^t know" what the 
thermometer was, but I think it must have been below 
twenty. I am afraid I must give up praising our 
<'liinate. The rapid change from twenty on the 
fourteenth, to eighty-eight on the twenty-third will 
frighten the people of your more temperate regions. 
The thermometer was at eighty-eight in the shade yes- 
terday before twelve o'clock, what it might rise to 
afterwards I don't know^ However, being rather 
lightly clothed w^e did not care to face the snowstorm 
and did not leave Peterborough till the fifteenth, the 
ground being hard frozen. 

Upon arriving to breakfast on Chemong Lake we 
found our scow had not yet been brought there accord- 
ing to promise, and, as McCall was useless from a bad 


hand, Mc Andrew and I did not like to undertake bring- 
ing her down from five miles off by ourselves and then 
continuing our journey with almost a certainty of 
having to camp out on the road without blankets; so 
as the steamer was just starting we got all our things 
on board and got to Bobcajewonunk before five. Leav- 
ing most of our luggage there we got up the rapids 
with as much as our boat would hold, Adth the intention 
of getting forward to McAndrew's to sleep; but in 
passing Need's about five o'clock, the sight of a deer 
which the wolves had just driven into the lake and he 
had killed, together with his pressing invitation, 
arrested us.* We had had nothing to eat since break- 
fast and were wet and cold, the idea of arriving at 
McAndrew's at eleven at night and having to light a 
fire and cook our supper was not cheering. However 
as it was we had better have gone on, for Need's fire 
would not burn, and what with skinning and cutting up 
the deer it was one o'clock in the morning before we 
got supper; and to crown our misfortunes Need does 
not keep any spare blankets, so McAndrew and I had 
to sleep on the floor in our wet clothes, after many 
fruitless attempts to get the fire to burn. 

"\Ve were oft' before anybody was stirring and got to 
McAndrew's for breakfast, and in the afternoon I went 
home in my boat with a most unruly cargo, consisting 
of a pig and six fowls together with some more manage- 

* The killing- of this deer, together with "a sudden and extreme 
change of temperature" while snow was on the ground, is men- 
tioned by Need under the date of May 17. Need's book is spoilt 
by an excessive reserve about other people, and he makes no men- 
tion of his guests on this occasion or of the adventure of pre- 
paring the deer for food, but his narrative is evidently an account 
of the same day as that here noted as the 15th. Both diarists 
occasionally lost a day. Need crossed the lake on Monday to 
attend the Church Service a friend held on Sunday. John Lang- 
ton, p. 164, discovers he has dated his letter wrong. 


able bags of flour, oats, etc. In the middle of the Lake 
the pig got her legs loose and dire was the scuffle before 
I could get her down again and get her manacles 
adjusted. In her struggles she had kicked out some 
rags with which a leak had been temporarily stopped 
up till I can get a supply of oakum and pitch, and I had 
to stop every ten minutes to bale out, until by shifting 
my cargo to one side so as to bring one gunwale almost 
to the water, I contrived to keep the leak above water, 
not however without imminent danger of drowning my 
pig in the water which still tilled the bottom of the 
boat. The pig though a bad sailor is nevertheless a 
good pig, a very tractable animal except for a great 
fondness for coming into the house. As for want of 
oxen I have not yet been able to fence in my garden, I 
cannot fairly object against her the rooting up my 
onion bed. The hens might as well have remained at 
Peterborough, for the brush heaps afford so many con- 
venient hiding places that I have not yet found an egg; 
indeed one of the poor creatures would have been much 
better there, for she this morning serv^ed as breakfast 
to a fox or marten. I have finished the frame of a hen- 
house but until I get up some of my boards* from 
Mc Andrew's I cannot give them effectual shelter. 

The 17th. I began digging up a garden, a most 
laborious operation, for there is such a tangled mass of 
roots to be cleared away that the axe and the pickaxe 
with the assistance of the hands almost supersede the 
use of the spade. What I have done behind the house 
is, however, thoroughly cleared and is reserved for 
those plants which require a well cultivated soil; the 

* During his absence in Toronto the three Macs had brought 
down from Purdy's saw mills two rafts of boards, each containing 
10,000 ft. which were to be divided among the four neighbours. 


front of the house I have left for Macredie (who came 
up this da}^ to stay a few days with me), and it will 
produce some things until I have time to get the whole 
thoroughly cleared. 

The 18th, Sunday, we spent much of the day on the 
lake as being the coolest place. 

The 19th. My choppers had not yet returned and 
as we had had a few days of dry weather I was afraid 
to lose the opportunity and resolved to burn their 
chopping without them. If the burn turned out a bad 
one, of course they would have come upon me for the 
damage, but the fear of being quite too late for potatoes 
overcame my doubts and, getting the assistance of my 
new choppers, we soon had it in a blaze ; about half an 
hour afterwards my men arrived. As it turned out we 
should have done much better to have waited a few 
days, but, as the men acknowledged that they were 
hurrying up to burn that day, I am relieved of all 
responsibility. It has been a very poor burn in many 
parts and in my o\^^l chopping it has not burnt at all, 
so that I don't think I shall get more than seven or 
eight acres ready for a crop out of the fifteen or more 
that are down, the rest will have to w^ait for the autumn, 
but I shall get in my potatoes and turnips and probably 
some oats for the straw. Indeed upon new land the 
oats seldom bring much grain to perfection but the 
straw is most luxuriant and is almost indispensable for 
fodder in the winter 

The next three days Macredie and I worked at the 
garden, and yesterday, having at last got hold of 
Jameson's scow, I went over to Mc Andrew's and 
brought up my oxen, which I have never before been 
able to get across the lake since we brought them down. 
To-day we drew^ off the logs which encumbered the 


ground of my garden and drew in logs to split up for 
rails, so that as soon as I get a man to help me I shall 
have a chance of getting it fenced in and into some 
decent order. The three Macs are gone doAvn to-day 
in the scow to bring up our flour, etc., from the rapids. 
On Monday we go to Ops to bring down potatoes, and 
there I mean to hire a man ; and on Wednesday we all 
go to Peterborough to buy McCall's and Macredie's 
land, to bring up our scow, and to get some pork, for 
we are beginning to be threatened with scarcity. Next 
week I shall have twelve mouths to feed and I have 
not above 150 pounds of pork left ; McAndrew has been 
for some time borrowing a few pounds at a time; 
Jameson, who used to be our principal reliance in case 
of want, has twenty or thirty hands employed building 
his saw mill, and at the lower end of the lake there is an 
absolute famine. Need, after borrowing as much as any- 
body would lend, had eaten liis last piece of pork to 
dinner the day he killed the deer. I am loath to leave 
home just now, especially as my oxen are but in poor 
condition and I am afraid of the men overworking 
them at the logging, but as I have escaped going do\\Ti 
to Bobcajewonunk to-day I am afraid I must bear my 
share of bringing up the new scow. 

You ask as to my plans of proceeding. I think that 
my former letters will have given you hints at dif- 
ferent times from which you can gather my intentions 
pretty accurately, but I will now tell you more con- 
nectedly what my mode of operations will be. 

I have now chopped (at a guess for it is not yet 
measured) about eleven acres by my first contract, 
about five of my own, and Abraham Fitchett, the new 
chopper I mentioned, is to have fifteen more ready for 
fall crop. Then there will be about fifteen acres more 


along the lake shore which I shall get done during this 
summer and winter, partly by contract, partly by my 
own man, to open my present clearing to the lake; 
about ten or twelve acres of this will be light chopping, 
principally young timber on an old windfall or burn 
and will have to lie a summer before burning. This will 
make an opening from forty to fifty acres and most of 
this w^ll be down in wheat and rye this fall and will 
be sown with grass in the spring. After this I propose 
to contract for ten acres every year and my own man 
may get perhaps about three more down ; part of this 
will of course be got ready by the spring and the whole 
down in wheat in the fall. Fitchett, who has a large 
family, wants to buy some land of me and has proposed 
to clear sixty acres for 300, which at fourteen dollars 
an acre is equal to 14/- for the land.* The offer is not a 
bad one and if, upon further acquaintance, I am satis- 
fied with the man's character I think we may make a 
bargain, but I will not have more than ten or at the 
most fifteen acres chopped annually until hands are 
more easily to be got. I would sell him for instance 
200 acres for ten acres cleared annually for five years, 
which reckoning interest on the instalments would be 
a trifle less than he offers. But this is a parenthesis. 
The first crop of wheat ought nearly to pay the 
expense of clearing the land, and, if you [get] a 
crop off in the summer before wheat is sowed, it 
should quite cover the expense. You then have the 
land in grass for four years before you attempt to 
plough, for if you try a second crop unless it be 
potatoes or corn (Indian), which being planted in 
hills you c^n hoe between, it is choked up mth weeds 
from the impossibility of ploughing new land, and 

* In the old currency a shilling was the equivalent of 20 cents. 


moreover all the stumps A\ill send up suckers and you 
will have to cut and burn them again. When in grass 
the cattle T\-ill keep the suckers down of every tree ex- 
cept basswood. At the end of four years, or, on a 
sunmier 's chopping or fallow, in three, you may get in 
the plough and each year some of the stumps come out. 
The first ploughing after so short a time is a laborious 
and expensive business, but the stumps will rot out the 
faster. After the plough has been got in you may 
follow of course any plan of cropping which may ap- 
pear desirable but grass is the only thing to succeed 
your first crop on the greatest part of your land. 

Now it appears, upon the plan I have sketched, that 
in the last year before I should get the plough into the 
land I am to have in wheat this fall, I should have 
eighty or ninety acres in grass and only fifteen in any 
other kind of crop, or, allowing five acres of the last 
year's chopping to be in spring corn, twenty acres, and 
this seems disproportionate; but it appears to be the 
opinion of every one I have spoken to that the rearing 
and feeding of cattle is the most profitable mode of 
farming in this country, and that, even after the plough 
can be got in, a grazing farm would be preferable to an 
arable one ; and if the fully stocking so large a portion 
of grass land should appear to require too large an out- 
lay of capital, I will observe that there will be many new 
settlers who, having no grass of their o^^^l, will be glad 
to put out their cattle, and that, besides a large quantity 
of hay being required for one's own cattle during our 
long winter, hay is an article which bears a higher pro- 
portionate price than any other produce, except in new 
to\\Tiships potatoes, which were last year selling in 
Ops at as high a price per bushel as much of their 
wheat fetches this year. 


You are very hard upon us and our slovenly ways of 
building, etc., but it seems to me you do not make 
sufficient allowances for the difference between a new 
and an old country, or for the hurrj' in which things are 
obliged to be done in a first settlement. Labour is dear, 
and the hands you employ, from being obliged to do a 
little of everything, are not very perfect at anything, 
so that you cannot afford the expense of, and cannot 
get the men to perform, first rate work at any rate. The 
cornering and hewing of a well built log house is 
[? not] perhaps as nice work as your Russian mode of 
fitting the logs,* but the one your men have been ac- 
customed to and the other they have never seen. If 
you set them to any strange kind of work you must 
make up your mind to pay doubly and have worse work 
into the bargain ; besides a man who has been sleeping 
in the open air ^\ith all his luggage under no better 
shelter than a cedar tree is glad to get under any sort 
of roof which will keep out the rain ; and having spent 
a fortnight in a doorless, chimneyless, unchinked 
shanty he is equally in a hurry to get into something 
more worthy of the name of a house. Then as to the 
time which the building of my house took, a person who 
is living in England or Russia, who has his regular 
carpenters and masons, together mth horses and carts 
to bring his materials, all at hand, is very apt to over- 
look the diiference of our situation — the ground has to 
be cleared, the logs have to be cut here and there, to be 
carried on men's shoulders and raised to their places 
by mere human force; trees have to be split and 

* The frequent allusions to Russia are due to his father's im- 
pressionable youth having been si>ent there. No doubt the build- 
ing of log houses in Russia, and the heating of them, operations 
centuries old, impressed him by their perfection; a perfection from 
which the backwoods methods were far removed. 



hollowed out into troughs to form the roof ; boards have 
to be fetched from a saw mill sixteen miles off and then 
carried a quarter of a mile on your shoulders; the 
cellar has to be dug; the stones for the chimney must 
be collected, and carried by hand sometimes a con- 
siderable distance, and, if you are unfortunately late in 
the season, the clay which is to cement and plaster your 
walls must ])e mixed with boiling water and worked 
before a fire, and you must keep a fire in the chimney 
whilst building to keep your cement from freezing. 
Then — your men may be lamed with a cut, etc., etc., 
which would be tedious to detail, but which taken col- 
lectively form no small impediment to one's progress, 
more especially the wounds which in frost will hardly 
ever heal, so that the scratches which in an ordinary 
way one would never think of, by accumulating some- 
times make one's hands almost useless; we were once 
obliged to give up bread, none of us having a liand fit 
to knead with. 

Upon this subject of bread you are severe upon us 
too and have insulted us by offeifing a present of 
Robinson Crusoe. His oven no doubt was a very good 
one, but Ave in Canada have one quite as good 

But Rome was not built in a day; at first we had so 
much on our hands that we had no time to think of 
raising bread, besides that the frost operates much 
against the making of leaven ; at last, however, we got 
some barm with the assistance of hops, etc., and, though 
in a hurry I still occasionally resort to the dough cakes, 
I am now setting as good bread as any in Liverpool. 
Our oven, or — as it is called — a bakepan, is a round 
pan with a flat bottom and flat lid, under which 
a few cinders are put and some more on the top, and 


it bakes as well as Kobinson Crusoe could desire. The 
dough cakes are not as you seem to think a sort of fried 
dough, though that was w^hat w^e had recourse to when 
we could not knead, but round thinnish cakes of good 
dough put into the bottom of a frying pan which is 
reared up before the fire with some hot coals behind it, 
and thus it is half toasted, half-baked — very palatable 
I can assure you, particularly if mixed with a little 
pork fat. 

Then you recommend to rub the pease through a 
sieve — but where is the sieve? And my mother sug- 
gests the potatoes being boiled separately — but I have 
only one pot. Wlien I give a feast I am hard put to it 
for want of culinary utensils, but, with a little con- 
trivance, I have managed on two occasions to produce 
six dishes. Thus, the pot may first half boil potatoes 
to be afterwards sliced and fried after the pork ; it may 
then half boil a piece of beef which may be finished in 
a rude sort of Dutch oven, whilst the pot once more 
does duty w^ith a stew of porcupine and rice; in the 
meantime the bakepan having finished a loaf may bake 
a venison pie and a cranberry tart ; and without much 
difficulty fried fish and a deviled duck or partridge may 
be added, all which with the addition of cheese will 
make a very handsome dinner for the backwoods. 

By the bye of cooking and eating wiiich unaccount- 
ahly fill a large space of my letters, for I am sure in 
practice they are very little attended to, excepting on 
the occasion of the before mentioned feasts when any 
strangers come up, and occasionally one amongst our- 
selves on birthdays, etc., or when we have got some- 
thing particular, just to keep us in practice. Some- 
times for form's [sake] I lay the cloth and take my 
meals regularly, but generally when Macredie is not 


with me I take no regular meals ; perhaps there may be 
some cold pork, or I fry some cold potatoes, but I 
never have any cooking till after dark, the loaf of bread 
and a tea pot full of cold tea being always ready if I 
feel hungry during the day, which, however, seldom 
happens. The baking, which I always disliked and 
which is a great interruption, I have lately transferred 
to Mrs. Grey; and the other bore, the washing up, 
unless Macredie comes, who shines in that line, I do 
all in a lump when I have used up my stock of plates, 
etc. In truth I am almost tired of living alone. But 
as I was saying by the bye of eating, we are beginning 
to improve in that respect ; venison is not yet in season 
and maskinonge has just gone out for a month or two, 
but the pigeors are beginning to be numerous, part- 
ridges may be had at half an hour's warning, though 
it is rather a shame to shoot them at present, and a 
stray duck falls in one's way every now and then. 
The other day I shot a porcupine which upon the second 
trial I pronounce very good eating, and, what is better, 
there is a great deal of solid substantial food on them ; 
there is a peculiar smell and taste about the meat which 
I judged it prudent to mitigate by parboiling, but 
after that he made a most excellent stew. The beast 
to my surprise was in the top of a tree, and, if you 
wish more acc^uaintance with him his name is Hystria 
dorsata. Then I have a kid ready for the butcher in 
another week, and about a fortnight after expect a 
goodly family of little pigs, which, with what I may 
shoot and with the eggs, chickens and ducks I may have, 
and my goat's milk after the death of her kid, will 
supply me with im occasional variety from salt pork. 
But our great dependence at present is the black bass. 
Remembering your enciuiries about the creature I went 


out yesterday (to-daj' is Sunday the 25th) and caught 
one. First having examined it, I pronounce it to belong 
to the family of Percoides, of the order Acantho- 
pterygii, to have the ventral fins below the pectoral, to 
have only one dorsal fin, six bronchial rays and numer- 
ous crowded teeth. I believe it to be of the genus 
Pomotis of Cuvier ; the species my authority does not 
enable me to determine ; and secondly, having eaten it, 
I decide that it is an excellent fish. AVater zoutje we 
have not yet tried, but from the gelatinous nature of 
the gravy which fills a dish upon which cold fish has 
been left I think it may succeed. "VMiatever the 
scientific name of the fish may be, its American name is 
Black Bass, the same if I remember right which is 
immortalized by Cooper in the Pioneers. When 
maskinonge comes into season I will tell you all I can 
discover with regard to them 

I do not propose gi^^ng Billy McQue a spade; I do 
not see what use he has for it except to take out the 

I want nothing particular from England. 

May the 28th. As I have still some room left I will 
fill it with my journal up to the present time, and it is 
fortunate for me that I have not to occupy the space 
by contradicting my last sentence saying that instead 
of nothing I want everything 

[This is said because, while visiting Mc Andrew, he 
received news that they were burning the brush at 
his place.] As this [he says] had already been finished 
ten days ago I was rather uneasy, but thinking my 
house pretty safe I went on loading the scow till the 
arrival of Fitchett with intelligence that the fire, which 
has been smouldering in old logs ever since my burn. 


had broken out with the high wind and that the cedar 
swamp in front of my house was all in a blaze. Having 
removed everything from Grey and Reilly's shanty, 
which was in the greatest danger, he had left two of 
his boys with orders to watch the progress of the fire 
and break open my house if the danger increased. I 
jumped into the first boat that came in my way and 
pulled off directly ; Grey followed with Fitchett and his 
son, and soon after Macredie and Mclnnes put off after 
me. Having fallen [on] a most miserable abortion of 
a boat and the wind being very high I landed as soon 
as possible and struck off through the bush, being 
much assisted by my new road which I fell in with. 
Grey and I, having the one a wife and cliild and the 
other his property at stake, far outstripped the rest 
and had got most of the contents of my house out before 
assistance arrived. When we reached the bottom of 
the hill, from the top of which I knew we should ascer- 
tain our fate, we moderated our pace ; I must say I felt 
very philosophical, receiving great consolation from 
the recollection that I had lent Jameson the day before 
eleven plates ; but upon reaching the top of the hill my 
house gladdened my sight — entire — ^though Grey's 
was a heap of ashes. He is now however domesticated 
in my vacant shanty and does not appear to have lost 
anything but one knife and fork. 

When I was living here alone I had always planned 
that if a fire took place I would threw everything dowm 
into the cellar; but my cellar is now unfortunately 
really a cellar and not a well, so we removed all the 
heavy articles outside, and, having carried up a lot of 
empty barrels to the middle of the clearing, we carried 
up sacks full of the loose articles and filled them there. 


We have now I think, by keeping the ground well wet, 
set certain bounds to the fire which it wdll not trans- 
gress while the wind remains in the present quarter at 
least ; but fallen trees having since choked up my road 
to the lake we shall be ill off for water in case it in- 
creased. However tow^ards sunset the wind generally 
dies away and we have a fair promise of a rainy night, 
so that I have carried everything back into the house, 
but kept them packed up in readiness to remove at a 
moment's notice; and ha^dng taken a couple of hours 
sleep I am now ready to sit up all night to watch. If 
the wind changes before rain comes the house must go, 
but I shall have time to save the contents. 

Of course I shall not go down to-morrow to Peter- 
borough but must get my business done by some of the 
rest. Macredie I am momentarily expecting to come 
back for my instructions and this letter. 

This is but a tantalizing conclusion to a letter, and I 
am almost sorry now that I did not reserve to-day's 
occurrences for a beginning to my next; but it is one 
of the evils of the backwoods, which, when one has 
been living for a week surrounded by fires, one thinks 
much less of [fire] than you will. However you may 
console yourself with this — that should the house be 
burnt I am not at all alarmed for the contents; and 
though I should not like to lose the £20 it may have cost, 
I can now build a much better for the money. I will 
write again in a fortnight to tell you the result and 
perhaps this letter may not get off till that can be 
knoA\Ti — for when I left Mc Andrew' 's there were fires 
burning so near it that I should not leave it to-morrow 
if it were mine, and I should think he will not. But 
what with the party there now and his men he has so 
manv hands that there cannot be much danger. 


P. S. Peterborough, May 31st. All danger being over 
and three more men having arrived to help at my log- 
ging I came down here yesterday. 

To HIS Father 

Fenelon, 13th June, 1834 

You seem to wonder that we do not buy our goods at 
Peterborough. Mr. Ferguson was an excellent worthy 
man, but a very l)ad storekeeper; he went upon the 
old Canadian system of enormous profit and almost 
unlimited credit; this might be almost necessary 
formerly, but now when cash is more plentiful those 
who have it are not content to give cash for credit 
prices. The merchants at York and in the front soon 
found out this and reduced their prices for cash ac- 
cordingly, but the new system had not travelled into 
the backwoods when we made our purchases last year ; 
they talked indeed of casli, but it was the old Canadian 
cash, viz., six months and — a bittock. There is a great 
deal of difference between cash and dowai upon the 
counter. Mr. Wark liad just arrived last year and was 
perfectly w^U inclined to take the credit prices, though 
he was understood to be equally for payment of them 
in cash. But Mr. Wark though very shrewd is a man 
of business and saw through the evils of the system; 
when we had found out the way by the Scugog river he 
came forward with a proposal to deal with us at really 
cash prices, but always under an injunction of secrecy, 
being unwilling to lose the benefit of the — almost — 
monopoly, which since Mr. Ferguson's death he holds 
of those to whom the Scugog is not so convenient. We 
agreed to his proposals, and I hope may now get our 
supplies from thence at moderate rates, which will be 


the more convenient to us, as he is establishing a store 
at Bobcaygeon, so that he can deliver us our goods 
there. (Y^ou see I have altered my spelling once more in 
obedience to common usage, though the other accords 
better with the Indian pronunciation ; in common 
parlance we call the two channels for shortness Great 
and Little Bob.) I do not place implicit reliance on 
Mr. Wark alone, but we are going to have another large 
establishment at the head of which will be Mr. Fergu- 
son's brother. They have purchased the Peterborough 
mills for £8,000 from Mr. Hall, who four years ago paid 
£3,000 for them — about three times as much as he was 
worth in the world, and they are going to open in con- 
nection with them an extensive store. Between the two 
I consider Peterborough our market now, though it is 
a comfort to have a nearer road to Lake Ontario, and I 
think we shall not often have to resort to the front or 
to England to get things cheaper (excepting for very 
heavy articles), though we may get them better. I 
hope that the state of the money market last winter 
will have opened the eyes of Canada in general to the 
impolicy of the old credit system. 

Y^ou will say that in my disquisition on the trade of 
Peterborough I talk more as if I was a merchant than 
a poor farmer. But I am a sort of merchant in my 
way, and the stores I have to get up amount to a sum 
which makes the difference between cash and credit 
prices of great importance. I have now thirteen per- 
sons to supply with all the necessaries of life, viz., two 
sets of men working on contract and two men on wages, 
and though I make a profit which remunerates me for 
my trouble and risk in bringing the goods up, I contrive 
generally to sell them cheaper than they could get 
them from a store in Peterborough. 


The events of a staj^ at Peterborough always puzzle 
me in writing my journal. On Sundays we go to 
church and make calls and on week days drinking tea at 
Col. Brown's or the Fergusons is the only variety from 
wandering about from the blacksmith to the cooper, the 
shoemaker, the tin man, the mill and the different 
stores, fruitlessly endeavouring to hurry them on with 
what you want 

Your suggestion upon the subject of potatoes shall 
be tried; it reminds me of a receipt I got from Mr. 
McDonell: maskinonge is in full season in the winter 
and is then speared through the ice. "When you get 
more than you want, of course in winter they will keep 
till there is a thaw, but then they go directly. Now I 
am instructed to treat them thus: When you have a 
maskinonge to spare, boil a couple of dozen potatoes, 
peel them and mash them in the bottom of a barrel, 
strewing on plenty of salt and pepper ; then boil your 
fish — practice only can tell you how much — but at a 
certain stage if you take him up by the tail and give 
him a gentle shake over the barrel all the flesh will fall 
off and leave the skeleton in your hand ; lay this evenly 
and salt and pepper it again ; repeat this operation till 
your barrel is full, then head it up and when all is hard 
frozen it ^dll keep in a cool place good till the be- 
ginning of June. "Wlien any is wanted for use take out 
a sufficient quantity and fry it in little round cakes. 

One thing I must complete this summer, which with 
you is a luxury but with us almost a necessity — an ice- 
house. Even my kid, small as it Avas, was almost too 
much for me though I had a dinner party and two 
chance guests, hungry customers who had been walking 
through the bush all day. Without an ice-house we 
must absolutely live on fish, birds, or salt meat, for we 


never could get through a good joint. Then with an 
ice-house one might keep ducks, pigeons, partridge, etc., 
which are plentiful in the fall, for winter's use when 
they are difficult to get, and one might have a better 
chance of keeping beer; even in winter there are oc- 
casional thaws for a day or two when one's stores 
would stand a bad chance. 

Upon the subject of Billy McQue and his spade I 
must beg leave to have a discriminating power; he is 
a most hospitable old creature ; 1 have known him, when 
he had not a mouthful in the house, bm- some venison 
of an Indian, to satisfy a hungry guest, which he would 
never have asked for himself; but he has no use for a 
spade ; and a bag of flour, which I gave him last winter, 
and mean to repeat this, is more than compensation for 
any damage his spade may have sustained. 

By the bye I have had a bright idea. Shall I call my 
house Pecoosheen, which being interpreted means 
Black Fly — a name by which, why and wherefore I 
cannot tell, I commonly go amongst the Indians. 
Pecoosheen of that ilk would sound well I think 

June 18th. I do not like writing home when I am in 
a bad humour for fear my letters may partake of the 
infection, but though I am in anything but a philosophic 
mind to-day I am driven by sheer ennui to continue my 
letter. My house is so closely packed vdth flour, oats, 
pork, potatoes, etc., that any indoors work is next to 
impossible, and as there is only one dry spot where I 
can bestow myself locomotion becomes very incon- 
venient. A general washing day is proverbially 
detrimental to placidity of mind and how much more 
so must be the state in which I now am which has all 
the disadvantages of wet, extending even to my bed, 
without at all promoting the cleanliness of anything. 


At the setting in of the thaw I thought myself badly 
off when I had to move my chair now and then to escape 
the driblets of water which from time to time found 
their way through the roof; but that was a luxury to 
my present state when the boards which cover my 
house have shrunk up with our June sun and now admit 
a copious flow of water fifty places at once. Yesterday 
I bore the rain with great philosophy, consoling my- 
self with the good it was doing my potatoes, but to-day, 
when I have finished the old newspapers and reviews, 
settled my accounts and done all the odd jobs I can 
think of, I must own I am tired of being wet, day and 
night, and look forward with pleasure to such weather 
as we had last Sunday week when the thermometer 
stood at 92° in the shade. But my troubles in this re- 
spect will I hope be soon over, for I am going to have 
two men this week to shingle my house and add the 
other wing, and then, but not till then, I shall be able 
to get the interior properly and comfortably finished. 

On Saturday the 21st, as I was going up to the Falls 
to fetch Capt. Dobbs down to dine with me and play 
chess, I met Jameson's scow coming down with two of 
his men and two strangers returning from the Falls, 
and, as I had promised Jameson to get him a load up 
from the Rapids, I returned with them. We dined at 
my house and drank tea at Mc Andrew's, waiting for 
the wind to fall. About 8 p.m. we continued our 
journey and camped out about eleven at the head of 
the Rapids; as I had been rowing near twenty miles 
that morning before I met the scow and had pulled all 
the way down I slept most soundly, but my companions, 
the gentlemen just arrived, complained of rain and 
other inconveniences of which I knew nothing. 


22nd. We went down in my boat and brought up in 
several trips the greater part of our load, but she is so 
out of repair at present, with carrying greater loads 
than she is calculated for, that she very nearly sunk 
with us twice and detained us a long time in patching 
her up. At night I preferred the bush to the dirt and 
noise of the tavern and camped out again with three 
Mohawk Indians on their return to the lower province 
with fifty beaver and other skins — £150 worth. I have 
often before spoken of the mosquitoes and my friends* 
the black flies, but there is another insect to which I 
am sure I have not done sufficient honour, — the midge, 
sandfly or gnat, — a diminutive little creature, scarce 
more than a black point. Its prick is like that of a 
needle and I had always despised it as beyond the first 
prick I never found any inconvenience from them; 
but when they come in tens of thousands it ceases to be 
a joke, and though I never yet have satisfactorily 
traced one of their bites to a spot, yet there are some 
five hundred to a thousand spots upon my hands, face, 
breast and other exposed parts to which I can ascribe 
no other origin. (I form this rough estimate from 
seventy-eight which I counted on one hand, and I am 
sure my breast has double that number ; the people at 
the Kapids, which they principally affect, look as if in 
the measles.) These with a due admixture of mos- 
quitoes and black flies, together with ants, upon a nest 
of which I happened to spend the night, rendered me 
abundantly uncomfortable ; but having been up to my 
middle in water working hard all day I slept well not- 
withstanding. 23rd. As we had been detained so long I 
resolved to wait for the steamer in the evening in hopes 

* Alluding to his Indian name. 


of some new arrivals, and as we had time to spare I 
set the men to take up the rest of the load and took a 
holyday myself, during which I made great progress 
in an acquaintance with my new friends the Mohawks. 
From them I learnt the art of making an extempore 
canoe of elm bark, in one of which, measuring 61/^ 
by 2^ feet and about 2 inches out of the water, I 
amused myself by paddling about, and though loath 
at first to leave the smooth and shallow water I finally 
trusted myself with confidence in the roughest part of 
the Rapids. The Mohawk hunting country is not like 
ours intersected by great lakes and rivers, and they 
consequently encumber themselves rarely with canoes, 
but, if they come upon a stream, in a few hours they can 
make a canoe of this sort capable of holding twenty 
men. As we advanced in intimacy during the day, 
though our only medium of communication was im- 
perfect French and a still more imperfect Missisauga 
interpreter, the old chief Uraguadire intimated his in- 
tention of making me a member of the Five Nations. 
He first commenced by an oration to his two com- 
panions, and then while he held my hand they all joined 
in a \\'ild song and finally hailed me by the name of 
So-ja-ho'-wa-nen, the final n being a scarcely audible 
nasal. My new name being interpreted means ''Un 
bien bon feu dans les bois" — truly a very good anti- 
dote for the Pecoosheens. They assure me that if ever 
I go to Cochnawaga or the Lake of the Two Mountains 
and mention my name I shall be recognized as a brother 

The Mohawks are certainh' a much finer specimen of 
the Indians than our Missisaugas, if I may judge 
from this sample. They were all three fine muscular 


men and the youngest, a nephew of the old chief, re- 
markably handsome . . . .* 

Mr. Smith, the surveyor of our new township was 
doA^m hunting for the boundary line of Verulam and 
Harvey, a continuation of which is to be his boundary, 
and (I mention it as showing how land was surveyed 
ten years ago) the 19th concession of Harvey is no- 
where to be found. T\liat are the poor people to do 
who have bought land in the 19th concession? I ques- 
tion much if Government vnll refund the money, or if 
they can get redress from the surveyor and his sureties. 

I may as well mention another of our grievances. 
Last year Government contrary to the best advice raised 
the price of land at once from 5/- to 10/-, and now 
they find that they were in error and are talking of re- 
ducing it again. AMiat are we to do who bought at 10/- ? 
We certainly shall not get any of our money back and 
I doubt even if we get land in exchange. But with all 
this land keeps up its price ; a lot was sold at 25/- the 
other day near me and not nearly as good land as mine. 
But it is only monied men who buy here ; all the labour- 
ers are going to the West. "Whatever they may do I 
am not afraid of losing my land, though it may be 

* Need, under date of June 18 of this year, says "At the Rapids 
below the clearing, I fell in with three Indians of the Mohawk 
tribe, returning from the chase with a quantity of furs. One 
of them was Pierre, a celebrated model of Indian sjanmetry. 
I do not think I ever witnessed so faultless a form and figure, 
whether for beauty or strength." 

These Mohawks, spoken of in a later letter as "great rascals 
by the way," were intruders upon the hunting grounds of the local 
Indians who were afraid of t\em in spite of, or perhaps because of, 
the massacre spoken of on p. 23. Need says the local Indians 
annoyed him by camping on his land too close to his house. He 
did not like to drive them away, but when they appeared a 
second time he says, "I contrived to drop a hint or two of an 
expected visit from some Mohawk Indians. The intruders said 
nothing, and appeared to receive the intelligence with perfect 
indifference; but on rising next morning I had the satisfaction 
of finding the camp broken up and the coast cleared." 


anno}' ing to see others buying at half price ; my vicin- 
ity to Cameron's Falls will always insure me a good 

. . . To-day (26th), Capt. Dobbs and Mc Andrew came 
down to tea and the former beat me three games at 
chess. He is an old player and understands the rules, 
but I do not despair of beating him yet when I get a 
little more into practice. 

The gentlemen being weather bound stayed all night, 
but as they chose to go to bed at the unchristianlike 
hour of nine o 'clock I took the opportunity of writing 
my journal and finishing this letter, from nine to five 
being rather more than I like of a blanket on the floor. 
And now that I have finished my journal thus far, 
allow me to say that it is the last that I shall write 
with such regularity. I originally commenced upon 
this system thinking that first impressions are best 
conveyed in that form, and that from a journal of my 
proceedings you would be better able to judge of our 
way of life than if I had attempted a more formal 
description of the state of society, etc. But now nov- 
elty is wearing off and there is nothing in nine days 
out of ten worthy of being recorded. AMienever any 
variety occurs I will faithfully relate the adventure, 
but where I am silent you must imagine to yourself my 
usual humdrum life. . . . 

To HIS Father 

Fenelon, Oct. 28, 1834 

It is so long since I wrote last, and that too after a 
considerable interval, that I fear you will think I am 
going to relax in my diligence as a correspondent ; but 
when the liurry is once fairly over I have no doubt I 
shall become more regular again. 


Ever since July I have been in a continued bustle, 
with twenty things calling imperatively to be done and 
no time to be spared. AVhen called do^^^l to Peter- 
borough it has been in a hurry before I had time to 
write a letter, and when down there it is impossible to 

To-morrow we are going down to Peterborough for 
the last time before winter, for the treble purpose — 
of attending a public meeting to petition for the open- 
ing of the Trent, — to get up our stores before our ap- 
proaching state of torpidity comes on, — and to be pre- 
sent at a housewarming to be given by Major Ham- 
ilton; — and this opportunity of writing to you, as it 
may be the last for some time, I must not let slip. 

I do not remember by the bye whether I ever men- 
tioned the Major to you in any of my letters. He is a 
very gentlemanly old man who bought a mill at Peter- 
borough last autumn and has lately been joined by an 
agreeable family of all sexes and ages, of whom the 
eldest son, about twenty, is going to be our neighbour 
next summer on Cameron's Lake, on his father's 

Of my proceedings since I last wrote I have not much 
to say; when I went down to Peterborough and re- 
turned to my house with Mr. James, we were the bear- 
ers of the news that the Governorf was at last coming 
up to our Lakes. H^^ving notified this to the different 

* Major Hamilton was of the 78th and 79th Highlanders. He 
served with Sir Ralph Abercrombie in Egypt, and in other cam- 
paigns. On retirement from service he received from the Im- 
perial Government, a grant of 2,000 acres of land in Canada. He 
came to Peterborough in 183.3 and purchased the grist mill and 
saw mill of Adam Scott on Scott's Plains by the Otanabee. To 
these he added a brewery and distillery and operated them with 
Mr. Fortye, a son-in-law. His family consisted of three sons 
and seven daughters. 

t Sir John Colborne. 


gentlemen on the road we went up to MeAndrew's and 
he and I rowed down to Need's to bring the great man 
up, leaving McCall and Macredie to cook dinner. But 
no governor had arrived and we returned to console 
ourselves by eating his dinner. Next day James and I 
went on to Blytlie* and I sent my men dow^i for the seed 
wheat I had brought up. But the following day, when 
I was without my boat, we had the satisfaction of see- 
ing His Excellency proceed up with a long train of 
boats, canoes, etc. After a while Mc Andrew sent us a 
log canoe and we followed up to the Falls. 

The Governor was quite delighted with the place and 
promised to send us up plenty of settlers next year. 
This is not all humbug, Sir John being a plain straight- 
forward sort of person, and to shew his zeal he next 
day walked about a dozen miles through the bush to see 
the Talbot river, which runs into Lake Simcoe, and 
immediately ordered a survey of the country between 
it and Balsam Canal, From Sir John's character and 
his known exertions when he has taken a fancy to a 
particular townsliip I anticipate the happiest results. 

Yours of the 27th August contains much to answer — 
at least many queries though short ones. Pork may 
certainlj^ be grown as good in Canada as in the States, 
and the farmers ' pork is generally better ; but not being 
yet so well a settled country we use more pork than we 
grow and Ohio pork can be procured cheaper; they 
have extensive backwoods there where the pigs run 
almost wild, — most of the heads in our pork contain a 
rifle ball. This winter I shall not use much pickled 
pork; I am going to kill my interesting animal and two 
of her progeny when the frost sets in. 

* The name he had given his house, "the true pronunciation of 
the other name — Pingooshins — being too like Pincushions." 


My ice house is nearly finished, half below the sur- 
face, with a good drain, and half above ; the walls being 
double, of logs with about a foot of earth between, the 
roof of cedar slabs thatched with hemlock boughs and 
covered A\^th a rounded top of earth from one to three 
feet. This with a roothouse of similar construction, a 
hen house, two pigstyes, a shed for cattle, one for fire- 
wood, and two shanties, form a little village round my 
mansion with its two Avings. 

If you wish my letters still to give you a sort of 
Journal I can do it, as I still keep a journal for my own 
edification and when anything out of the w^ay happens 
I certainly will give it in that form, but I think, in 
general, a hebdomadal will answer your purpose as 
well as a journal. 

Peterborough, Oct. [Nov.] 8th. . . . We have had the 
Trent meeting of which I spoke and have got our peti- 
tion well signed. It is to the effect that if our pro- 
vincial funds cannot suffice, which is improbable, we 
wish our Parliament to apply to the Home government 
to open it ; the increased value of Crown land and sale 
of mill sites ^yiU. go a long way in repaying them. If 
they will not do it we petition them to sell at the pre- 
sent rate the Cro"\^^l lands on the course of the waters 
to a Company to open the navigation. Since the meet- 
ing we have had letters from several parts of the coun- 
try, promising to cooperate with us, if none of these 
plans succeed, in raising the necessary funds by impos- 
ing a local tax of so much an acre upon all lands in the 
Newcastle District. The thing is receiving so much 
general attention now that I think it must soon be done. 
About £300,000 will be required, and I should think that 
the mill sites which would be created at the locks would 
sell for near £100,000. This would bring it up as far 


as Peterborough. About £150,000 more might be 
wanted to extend the navigation to Lake Simcoe. . . . 

The foUomng is a statement which will give you a 
pretty correct notion of my financial situation. Of this 
account I must observe that I had brought down w^ith 
me most of the data, but I find them now insufficient to 
give a full account. My miscellaneous expenses of this 
year I cannot yet make up; the greater part of them 
come under the head of provisions. It is to be observed 
also that the greater part of the expense of clearing 
has been paid in provisions and consequently about 
£60 must be deducted, if my account for provisions in 
this year had been made up. 

I must also add £44 odd, a present loss by which I 
have gained experience; Mr. Wark of this place has 
failed and taken me in to that amount, but I believe I 
shall recover about £30. 

The greater part of my heavy expenses are now over, 
except the remaining instalments on my land, and I 
have now something coming in. Besides my crops, 
which will now much relieve my expenditure for pro- 
visions which has been very heavy, I have been paid 
£25 in a bill on Jameson for Gordon's land, and he owes 
me £37 10s more to be paid in annual instalments of 
£12 10s; and my other land will soon be producing 


U. E. Rights (one unlocated) £112. 

Land, within £1 or 2 '' 90. 

Clearings ' ' 79. 

Oxen £58 8. and cows and pigs £13 " 71. 

Labour (including buildings) " 79. 

N.B. Some later payments omitted 







Miscellaneous expenses for 1833 

Travelling, living, etc £44. 7. 3 

Carriage, including boats.. "21. 1. Iiy2 

Tools, etc "10. 4. 9 

Furniture, including several 

miscellanies "31. 0. 8i/^ 

Lumber for house, etc " 5. 2. 

Provisions, stores, etc "45. 3. 4 

Postages, etc., etc "15. 3. 2 £172. 3. 2 

£604. 16. 2 
To HIS Father 

Peterborough, Feb. 18th, 1835 

You express a desire that I should continue to write 
to you somewhat of a journal and this in my future 
letters I will endeavour to do; in this one however I 
cannot conm;ience the practice as I intend to begin 
from the beginning of the year, and I have now no time 
for such a long letter even if I could recollect the order 
of events without referring to my journal. I can only 
say at present that we have had a very gay \\inter; 
several parties from Peterborough and the neighbour- 
hood have been up to see the back lakes and observe 
how we backwoodsmen live, and we in return, besides 
coming down to the Bachelors' Ball, which took place 
on the 27th ulto., are now undergoing a round of dan- 
cing, etc., Avhich has kept us from home for a week 
already and promises to detain us a day or two more. 
Balls in Canada are no joke ; when one comes forty 
miles to dance one does not like to make such a journey 
for a trifle and one takes a spell of dancing sufficient 
for an average winter at home. We conunence at seven 


or eight and, as the roads are hardly safe for the 
ladies to drive home by in the dark, we contrived, on 
the 27th at least, to keep them employed till daylight. 
We had about forty dancing ladies present and when 
I came to reckon up in the morning I had danced with 
all but two and with some of them two and even three 
times. On the 13th inst., we had a grand ball at Major 
Shairp 's which we kept up till half past five ; last night 
at Col. BroA\Ti's we stayed till two, and to-night at 
Major Hamilton's we are going to keep it up as long 
as we can find an}" one to dance with. My share of the 
dancing will however not be so great as usual as I am 
engaged in the capacity of butler, etc. Besides these 
more formal parties we from the back lakes spend all 
our vacant evenings at Major Hamilton's where we 
generally of late have contrived to get up a dance. 
They are an extremel}^ pleasant family with no non- 
sense or formality, but I have not yet been able to make 
up my mind with which of the three eldest daughters 
I am in love. Neither do I hear that McAndrew or 
Macredie have as yet made up their minds, though 
all the world of Peterborough are of the opinion that 
we are three couples elect. In fact marrying and giv- 
ing in marriage proceeds rapidly this year. Last year 
we had but one bridal party but this autumn we had 
two of our ladies carried off, one of them the belle of 
the district; and this winter two of my pleasantest 
partners have made their appearance at our balls as 
brides . . . 

I do not remember any particular news on the back 
lakes except that Jameson's saw mill is in full oper- 
ation ; that of Need however will cost a good deal more 


before it is well supplied with water.* The latter 
gentleman I am glad to inform you has become a great 
favourite with us all lately. As a companion, occasion- 
ally spending a Sunday with us, he is very amusing 
and exceedingly good natured. Upon the whole there 
is now great harmony amongst us and I hope it may 

We made a census of Verulam the other day and find 
that there are thirty-three families, but in poor Fene- 
lon the only settlers we yet muster are Jameson, Wallis, 
McAndrew, Macredie and myself, and to keep these in 
order the late Commission of the peace has named three 
magistrates, namely the three first. I have still great 
hopes that next year may bring us a great accession of 
emigrants, especially if Sir John Colborne remain in 
the Province, for he has been making all Canada jeal- 
ous by his praises of our Lake and the fine set of young 
men who are settled there. 

[A letter with narrative up to May 16 was lost in 

To HIS Father 

Blythe, June 16th, 28th, 1835 

As events are now of somewhat rare occurrence I 
must premise that on such days as are not particularly 
mentioned my occupation during this time has been 
working in my garden planting potatoes and Indian 
corn, and shooting pigeons, which have come upon us 
this year in immense flocks and devoured great quan- 
tities of my pease and oats; as they do not however 
spread generally over the field, but commence at one 

* Need records in his diary that the saw mill began working 
on April 8, 1836. 


end and work their way regularly to the other, they do 
not cause as much mischief as they otherwise would; 
where they have been there is not a vestige of vegeta- 
tion and we can sow something else, but the rest of the 
field is uninjured. . . . 

You ask about the nature of swamps. I think I must 
have explained before. Wherever there is a spring 
rising, cedars which love a moist situation rise up; 
these in time fall down, but, as the wood is almost in- 
destructible, the fallen trees lie on the ground in every 
direction for centuries, and in time block up the course 
of the stream; this of course soon spreads further its 
moisture and the same operation is constantly repeated 
until at last the swamp which was originally only 
around the spring, may extend through the whole 
valley. A drain however may in general be made at a 
trifling expense when you have once found out the 
spring, and at one or two dollars per acre more than 
hardwood you may clear the land, when all trace 
of swamp will disappear. These observations apply 
principally to patches of swamp of five to ten or fifteen 
acres which you find scattered through the hardwood 
land, and of its origin I feel convinced I have given 
the proper solution. Again, excepting where there is 
a great fall, the banks of creeks are almost universally 
acompanied by swamp, for the same reasons, and by 
cutting out the logs which lie across the creek and 
otherwise adjusting the drainage, such land may be 
recovered at a trifling expense. But there are in some 
extensive valleys swamps of such dimensions that it 
would be an enormous expense to attempt recovering 
them; and as the land which they occupy belongs to 
perhaps twenty different individuals, it is almost 
hopeless to expect that for many years any concert can 


be established amongst them to concur in a system of 
drainage. Still no one can deny that the swamps are 
the richest and best lands we have, and the majority 
of them might be easily drained; but the clearing of a 
swamp always costs more than that of hardwood land, 
independent of the expense of draining, which among 
stumps is more difficult and expensive than such an 
operation would be at home, and people prefer hard- 
wood land, from which they know they can get good 
crops for a year or two though ultimately I have no 
doubt the swamps will pay better. Dry swamps ap- 
pear to be caused much in the same way as the others, 
only there being more natural fall, it is but here and 
there that the cedar intercepts the water though they 
cover half the ground; in these there is always some 
mixture of hardwood; such is the land into which I 
propose for the future to extend my clearing. 

As for botany — I carry it and a little ornithology 
on at intervals and am beginning to be acquainted with 
most of the plants and birds one commonly meets with, 
but one is so much occupied with other things that 
these studies proceed slowly. One cannot carry one's 
books about with one and if I see a new plant on my 
way to Peterborough I must leave it, as there is no 
chance of getting it home in a fit state to be examined; 
and except when just round home one is always in such 
a hurry. 

This letter having been some time on hand I must 
continue my journal, which I left at the 14th, from 
when until the 20th I remained quietly at home and I 
remember nothing much of importance. 23rd. From 
what we heard from Jameson it appeared that Major 
Hamilton and his lady expected us down to take them 
up to see our lakes ; it afterwards appeared the note to 


that effect had miscarried. However I left home at 
four a.m. and pulled down to McAndrew's to break- 
fast, and he and I went on to Peterborough and ar- 
rived to tea. The Major was unwell and would not 
return with us, but at half past four the next morning 
they sent to wake us and say he was ready to start. 
24th. We got up and after breakfast walked to Mud 
Lake with the young ladies, the old gentleman and his 
lady riding; we pulled up to McAndrew's before sun- 
set. His house was given up to the strangers and we 
went to sleep at Macredie's. 25th. Rowed home with 
Dennistoun* to breakfast and then put him up to the 
Falls and returned to McAndrew's to dinner and slept 
again at Macredie's. The Major who is in very deli- 
cate health was so fatigued he could not stir out all 
day. 26th. Home to breakfast; McAndrew and Tom 
Macredie pulled the Major and Mrs. Hamilton up to 
my house and thence to the Falls and to see some land 
of his on Cameron's Lake, and they returned to dinner 
■with me. My dinner gave the last touch to my char- 
acter as an Amphitryon. I have given more abundant 
dinners but never a more genteel or better cooked one. 
At the top fried bass, bottom haunch of venison, done 
to a turn and kept to an hour, mth currant jelly sauce, 
one side a brace of roasted partridges with bread 
sauce and the other a curry — A curry! ! ! — a bright 
effort of my owai genius. A half dollar's worth of 
curry powder from Toronto has given six dishes for 
gala days; the material, what was it? a cheek of com- 
mon pickled pork boiled in three waters till all the salt 

* Mr. Robert Dennistoun who had recently, at the age of about 
twenty years, taken up land on Cameron Lake. Later he studied 
law and became a Q.C. and the County Judge for the County of 
Peterborough. In 1839 he maiTied one of Major Hamilton's 


and rancidity was away and then stewed down until 
very tender, the gravy a little enriched with portable 
soup — and an excellent dish it makes. And where did 
I get the currant jelly, you will enquire? Wallis kept 
bachelor's house at Montreal for some time, and upon 
coming up here divided some remaining pots of pre- 
serves amongst us. This may serve as hint if you send 
me out any preserves another year. Home to Mc- 
Andrew's that night. The 27th. Pulled them dowm to 
Peterborough and drank tea there. 28th, to-day. Went 
to church and dined at the Major's, and stole an hour 
whilst the rest were walking to finish this letter, the 
latter part of which has been written almost in the 
dark ; to-morrow we go home. 

To HIS Father 

Fenelon, July 2nd, 1835 

As to the shoes I confess I did not say whether they 
fitted me or not. A man may increase a foot or more 
round the waist without enlarging sensibly across the 
instep, and were he to fatten to the size of Dan. Lam- 
bert his feet would not grow seven-eighths of an inch 
longer. It certainly was a curious mistake of yours 
to suppose my shoes must be too small for me, especi- 
ally as I said nothing about it ; and to tell you the truth 
I did not imagine you ever did think so, but attributed 
your sending them to your knowm predilection to large 
shoes. They are however very wearable though, as 
might be expected, not quite so comfortable as those 
made to my measure, and I said nothing, knowing of 
old my small chance of persuading you that I knew the 
size of my feet better than you. But I cannot allow 
that it is my fault (not having told you how they fitted) 


that you are now sending out a pair still larger. Ac- 
cording to your principle — that if I do not cry out I 
ana not much hurt — it might have been natural to send 
me more of the same size, but I do not know upon what 
system of logic you formed your reasoning that as I 
did not say these were too large they must necessarily 
be too small. Moss at the toes may do to correct an 
unavoidable evil, and loose shoes may do very well for 
a person who walks about the house or your smooth 
roads half slipshod, but on our rough roads and in our 
rougher woods I do not know a more fatiguing pest 
than a shoe too large. Excuse my warmth on the ar- 
ticle of shoes, — it is intended to impress upon you that 
I do not want another pair larger still. 

You have seen Mr. McAndrew, and my mother I see 
forms an idea of his brother from ' ' his mild and agree- 
able manners and thoughtful expression." McAn- 
drew ^s father died early and his brother had to per- 
form the office of father for him, and having heard a 
great deal of him I feel quite acquainted with him, 
though I should have expected anything but ''mild 
agreeable manners" — at any rate such are not the 
manners of A. McAndrew ; he has almost overpowering 
animal spirits, and shares with his brother a temper 
very easily roused to something like violence, which 
however soon goes over, and which we know him too 
well to care about ; with strangers however and especi- 
ally ladies A. McAndrew can smooth his countenance 
to as mild and agreeable an expression as e'er a Scots- 
man in Christendom. 

Upon the subject of E. Birley it is a very difficult 
thing to advise. I feel inclined to think that a cleared 
farm is the most profitable situation though not so 
agreeable as the woods; but I think. you overrate the 


difficulties and privations of the woods. You must re- 
member that people coming up to our neighbourhood, 
for instance now, have not the tithe of the difficulties 
to encounter which McAndrew and I had who were the 
pioneers; and a person may go upon an uncleared 
farm if they prefer it without going so far as forty 
miles back from the nearest to^\^l. Even those who are 
only five or six miles from Peterborough call them- 
selves backwoodsmen and Peterborough itself the 
great Metropolis is reckoned amongst semibarbarous 
regions by the dwellers in the front. I would not 
recommend any one except such as have been previ- 
ously conversant with agriculture to take a cleared 
farm in full operation; but a farm with twenty or 
thirty acres in grass, and a sort of house or shanty 
upon it, may be bought within five or six miles of a 
market as cheap almost as wild land, and such a space 
cleared is an immense advantage as it enables a person 
at once to commence with cows and oxen. AATien I came 
out here first everybody here was mad from the sudden 
rise which land had taken all round Peterborough, and 
no price was so exorbitant that some purchaser was 
not to be found. Cleared farms consequently anywhere 
near Peterborough (which was the centre of this 
mania) bore an immoderately high price, or perhaps 
I might not have been a backwoods man. The cause 
of this was in part the sudden raising of the Govern- 
ment price of wild land, which enabled some specu- 
lators to get cent per cent in a month or two, and partly 
the real start that Peterborough had taken the two 
previous years, which sanguine men thought would 
continue for ever ; and in a great measure also to Mr. 
Bethune (whom I must have mentioned), who was then 
the great man of this part of the world, and who now 


has turned out to be a most sanguine but most reckless 
and unprincipled speculator. Last year came a re- 
action, but this year things I think are at about their 
fair value, though I think I do see some symptoms 
which a large emigration backed by the example of an 
influential speculator might ripen into another mania, 
against the efforts of which I would caution any new 

Besides the exorbitant price of cleared land when I 
came out, I was influenced in going into the backwoods 
partly by the sort of interest which attaches to the 
life of a pioneer, partly by the pleasant situation and 
prospect of agreeable society on our lakes, and partly 
by my opinion, which still remains unchanged, that, 
however it may be delayed, the time must come when 
these lakes will become very valuable. I shall yet see a 
town at Cameron's Falls taking the lead of Peter- 

I was led away with the rest of the mania and thought 
that our time would come sooner than it has. Our 
township after being unknown for eight or ten years 
took a sudden start and I supposed would continue to 
improve. All last year however it remained station- 
ary or nearly so ; Jameson, whose interest it certainly 
was to promote settlement, was so busy with making 
love and wandering about the country after one specu- 
lation or another, that with the exception of building 
his mill he did nothing; he has 12,000 acres of land and 
has not brought up one settler. Now however we are 
going to get another start, which I hope will not be so 
rapid but more continuous — nous verrons. 

6th. Having been so unfortunate as to miss the Rev. 


Mr. Bettridge* I determined to lose no more time but to 
take advantage of an idle time, that might not occur 
again before harvest, and take John Menzies' three 
children down to be christened. Started at half past 
five and got down to Peterborough after dark. 7th. 
Stood godfather to all the three and sent them off in my 
boat home, remaining myself to go up with Dennistoun, 
having had quite enough of my passengers. On my 
road down I heard that Major Hamilton's mill had 
been burnt down on the 4th, and upon arriving found 
it was too true. The sawmill, gristmill, distillery and 
brewery had all been burnt down in three-quarters of 
an hour ; 1,000 bushels of grain, 3,000 gallons of whis- 
key, forty barrels of ale and several of flour had been 
consumed; nothing but one barrel of whiskey and the 
bolting cloth from the mill were saved. Nothing was 
insured. The Major, to whom from his delicate health 
I thought it would have been fatal, bears it astonish- 
ingly. He was ill of the ague at the time, w^hich I am 
afraid he caught on our lakes, but the fire stopped it 
immediately. I should have been the more alarmed by 
such a shock to the constitution if it had not been for an 
attack of the gout which it revived. I sat mth him by 
his bedside for some time yesterday and he talked 
most cheerfully of rebuilding everything immediately. 
In the evening he sent to desire I would come and 
drink tea with him and he took as much interest in all 
our proceedings and our hopes for the progress of the 
back lakes as if nothing had occurred to himself in the 

* Mr. Bettridge was a clergyman at Woodstock who had accom- 
panied the son of Admiral Vansittart on a visit of inspection to 
Balsam Lake where Admiral Vansittart was proposing to make a 
large purchase. 


[It is not intended that the extracts made from 
these letters should be biographical; but the diary of 
a month which follows is brief, and is suggestive of 
the social side of backwoods life.] 

To HIS Father 

Blythe, Aug. 12, 1835 

My letter of the 8th July (concluded at least on that 
day) told you of my journey do^^^l and the bad news 
that awaited me there; the cause of my delay was 
partly my having sent my boat off on the 7th, and 
being consequently dependent upon others for my 
return, and partly that Mrs. H. pressed me so warmly 
to stay a little longer, alleging (which was manifestly 
true) that the Major was much the better for having 
somebody to talk to and keep his spirits up. What I 
did each day is hard to say. Immediately after break- 
fast I generally spent an hour by the Major's bedside, 
after which I as regularly found my way among the 
young ladies where two or three more hours used to 
pass away in conversation, my hands being kept em- 
ployed in the ignoble occupation of unpicking, mark- 
ing, darning, etc. ; another visit to the Major concluded 
the morning. After an hour or two for dinner a chat 
or walk with the ladies occupied the afternoon; the 
Major generally appeared at tea, and after he had re- 
tired chat, music, etc., concluded the day. All very 
agreeable but exceedingly unprofitable, and you may 
perhaps say that the Major's daughters had as much 
to do with my stay as the Major himself — ^may be. 
However on the 15th, ha\dng been relieved from my 
post by McAndrew, I departed, and travelled up to 


Bobcaj^geon by a scow wliich now plies regularly 
twice a week, and thence on home next day. 

The 19th, being Sunday, I killed a fatted calf (to wit 
a sucking pig) and proclaimed a feast, which was at- 
tended by Jameson, Dennistoun, Need, Tarbutt and 
William Hamilton, the two Macredies* having gone 
do^vn to Peterborough. Need having brought up his 
dogs we had a hunt in the morning — of the 20th — ^but 
lost the deer; however he stayed all daj^ mth me, and 
the next morning and again in the evening we had 
another unsuccessful hunt. Finally however on the 
morning of the 22nd we killed the deer; Need and 
William Hamilton returned to Bobcaygeon, Jameson 
and Dennistoun to the Falls, and Tarbutt remained my 
guest. The rest of the week was occupied with under- 
brushing the flat by the creek side. The 26th, Sunday, 
a second feast was proclaimed and a second pig died. 
The g-uests were Need, Wm. Hamilton, Robt. Hamilton, 
McAndrew, the two Macredies, Dennistoun and Tar- 
butt. McAndrew, the Macredies and Dennistoun went 
home, the rest stayed and killed a deer before break- 
fast next morning. 28th. Need went home. This 
week all hands, guests and all, were underbrushing. 
The 31st. Two strangers arrived to dinner and stayed 
all night. Aug. 1st Tarbutt left me. 2nd, Sunday. 
The Macredies dined here and took R. Hamilton away. 
Wm. Hamilton and I underbrushed, chopped, and 
carpentered during the week. The 8th. News having 
arrived that the frame of Major Hamilton's new dis- 
tillery was up, Wm. Hamilton's holyday was over and 
he left us. 9th. We all met at dinner at McAndrew 's. 
10th. I commenced reaping what promises to be a 
very good crop, but we are rather short of hands, as 

* A younger brother, Tom, had arrived early in June. 


two of my men contrived to cut their feet whilst chop- 
ping last week, but they are both limping along with 
the rest to-day. I muster in all — John, James (cut 
himself), his wife and three children, but one of the 
girls is obliged to help a good deal at the cooking. As 
the wheat is ripening much faster in some parts of the 
field than others we have taken the earlier parts first 
and shall easily get through it I hope before it gets too 
ripe. The 10th, 11th, and this morning have been 
awful days, the thermometer above ninety degrees 
and not a breath of wind, but just at dinner time a 
thunder storm came on and it has settled into a wet 
afternoon. So much for my journal up to to-day. 

One thing occurs to me which I must say now. 
McAndrew tells me that he has written very despon- 
dently upon the subject of the country to his brother 
and his brother seems to have spoken to you upon the 
subject. I am surprised you did not allude to it. Can- 
ada is decidedly not the country we any of us thought 
it was, but I do not go by any means the length that 
McAndrew does. I still think and hope that a liveli- 
hood may be made here, but this I foresee — that Stur- 
geon Lake will be a very changed place in a few years. 
McCall is already lost,* Sawers may be considered 
gone, and Atthill is very doubtful. Jameson, if he had 
not gone so far already, I am sure would like to back 
out, and Xeed is a very doubtful and uncertain person. 
As for McAndrew and the Macredies, my more par- 
ticular and intimate friends, I feel almost confident 
that this time next year their houses ^Wll be shut up. 
"\Miat they are going to do I do not know, nor do they 
probably themselves, but I see plainly they are not for 
this country. As to my opinions upon the capabilities 

* He returned to England and not long afterwards, died. 


of the country I refer you to a book on Canada and the 
States by Patrick Shirreff. He is a conceited Scotch- 
man, and evidently has at starting a prejudice against 
Canada, but, making due allowance for that, his ac- 
count seems to me the fairest and most practical of any 
I have seen; the account of Illinois however must be 
received I think with very great caution, and very 
heaw deductions must be made from his praises be- 
fore you will reach the truth. Get the book and read it. 

To HIS Father 

Blythe, Oct. 10th, 1835 

My last brought you up to the 12th, or I think in a 
postscript to the 16th of August and from thence to the 
end of the month not one day occurs to me either alha 
or nigra creta notandus, or to speak more classically 
creta aut carbone notandus. The 2nd September was 
a day we had been looking forward to, expecting to 
mark it in our calendars with the whitest of the former 
substance. Mrs. Hamilton and her daughters had pro- 
mised us a visit and McAndrew and Macredie had gone 
down on the first to row them up to Bobcaygeon, 
whilst Dennistoun and I went in a canoe to receive 
them there and relieve the others. The Major had 
quite recovered, the new mill and distillery were rap- 
idly rising and he was in the highest spirits; but the 
news reached us at Bobcaygeon that he had had a 
paralytic stroke and was hardly expected to survive. 

Dennistoun and I being so far on our road deter- 
mined to proceed and arrived at Peterborough that 
evening. Finding the two Macs dining out we waited 
up till they returned and then sat up so long talking 
that at last it was voted useless to go to bed. About five 


they set off home, and Dennistoun and I having pol- 
ished our backwoods integuments a little wrote some 
letters, made some calls, etc., and getting off from 
Peterborough about three p.m. reached McAndrew's 
before midnight only about an hour after the others, 
who had drawTi up their boat and had a sleep on the 
road. After a good supper (part of the preparations 
for the ladies) and a pipe we slept as you may imagine 
not ill till morning. This is the last time I have been 
down, but from accounts the other day it appears that 
the Major, though a long time in a hopeless state, is 
again for the twentieth time recovering from the very 
verge of the grave. 

Things on the farm did not go on so well as could be 
desired. The wheat was an excellent crop and the 
first days of harvest fine enough, but from the day I 
wrote to you until to-day there have not been I think 
two, but certainly not three fine days together. The 
consequence is that hardly a farmer in the country can 
show a sample of wheat entirely free from sprouted 
grains, and a great deal of the wheat and most of the 
oats are yet out in the field. I have been much more 
fortunate than many, though the harvest has been very 
expensive from the great loss of time in opening out 
and covering the stooks as a short gleam of sunshine 
or an impending shower called us away from the reap- 
ing. I still got the produce of fifteen and a half acres 
of wheat and six of oats saved before most of my 
neighbours, and though I can only rely on one stack as 
perfectly free from sprouted grain the rest makes 
very good bread, and with the exception of McAn- 
drew's, which was almost all saved the first fine week, 
it is reported to be the best which has appeared yet at 
Purdy 's mills. 


The quantity as well as the quality surprised me 
also — twenty-five bushels per acre is often talked of, 
but all the old farmers say they have seldom seen more 
than eighteen; however mine, notwithstanding two or 
three bushels per acre loss by shedding, from the con- 
stant shifting about of the stooks, and nearly as much 
more which is growing so badly as to be fit only for the 
pigs, will yield nearly if not quite twenty-five bushels 
per acre fit to go to the mill; at least as far as I have 
yet threshed out. By to-morrow night too I shall have 
finished raising my potatoes on four and a half acres 
which will yield rather more than 1,000 bushels. 
An acre and half of Swedish and near two acres of 
white turnips with a small patch of mangel-^^Tirzel, of 
peas and of corn complete my crops of this year. The 
wheat and oats were sown in the spring with grass 
and clover, but this has so completely failed that I 
shall have to sow it almost all over again next spring 
and thus shall lose a great deal of time ; in fact in about 
five acres of wheat stubble I think I shall not repeat 
the grass, but drag in oats in the spring. The land 
which was under potatoes and turnips I shall have in 
spring wheat and barley next year and I have about 
eight acres of wheat sown on new land this fall. I have 
also some eight acres or more chopped and burnt 
ready to log up in the sprmg for potatoes and turnips ; 
but the rain in harvest time has stopped my burn on the 
small strip down to the lake and on the patch along 
the creek whicli I mentioned I was chopping in my 
last, and the latter at any rate cannot be burnt till the 
middle of next sunmier. 

I tried both kinds of Cobbett's corn and both kinds 
have yielded cobs t^^ice the size of the original ones, 
which looks as if thev liked the countrv. The smaller 


kind is certainly much earlier than the common corn 
but does not seem to yield so large a crop (I have not 
yet ascertained the quantity per acre), and at any rate 
the gathering and husking is twice as laborious as it 
would be in a larger sort. The larger I planted too 
late; it seemed to thrive better than the corn usually 
does, but has not fully ripened, and these last few 
nights my cattle have taken care that I shall not be 
able to estimate the crop per acre, but I should think it 
quite an average one. Next year I will try patches of 
six kinds, Cobbett's two, the common corn, the cin- 
quantina, and two sorts that McAndrew has got from 

Here followeth a lamentation upon the climate of 
Canada. Last summer but one they say was an extra- 
ordinary summer; it was very hot and dry, so much 
so that the lakes and rivers were hardly navigable in 
parts and that potatoes and turnips produced very ill. 
Very hot it certainly was, but upon reference to my 
journal I find, that after a spell of fine weather that 
had long since melted the snow and coaxed on the 
vegetation, on the 14th of May there came a frost, 
the Lord only knows how many degrees below the 
freezing point, but such as to cause the icicles to hang 
a foot long from the roofs and the spray to form a 
cake of ice on the oars and paddles. The poor plants 
which were beginning to show their noses above 
ground in the gardens and fields! It appears also 
that on two or three mornings in the latter end of June 
there was ice of tolerable thickness at sunrise, which 
of course would prove satisfactory to corn, cucumbers, 
kidney beans and other tender vegetables. It appears 
too that on the night of Sunday the 28th September 
there came a frost that laid my potatoes as flat and 


turned them as black as if they had never been either 
green or upright. From the 14th May to the 28th 
September is four months and fifteen days to which 
this extraordinarily hot sununer was limited, for the 
two frosts which bound this period were sufficient to 
kill any vegetable thing of moderate delicacy of con- 
stitution which might be above ground, not to mention 
the slight warnings of their fate which they received in 
June. By a further reference to the same authority 
I perceive, that being on our road down to Peter- 
borough on the 30th October we were stopped by ice 
and on the 12th December the lake bore for the first 
time from Mc Andrew's, and even then it would not 
have borne a much heavier weight than mine, or indeed 
myself, if I had not been on snowshoes. Here then 
is a period of one month and thirteen days when we had 
neither ice nor water to travel on. Last winter they 
say was an extraordinarily cold one. Cold enough 
certainly ; a great many potatoes were frosted in their 
pits and root houses through the country; my calf lost 
an ear and would have lost his nose if we had not taken 
him to live in the kitchen, and many mornings my 
cattle, having lain down during the night, were so 
stiff that we got them up with difficulty when the sun 
had been an hour or two up. In this helpless state it is 
said many cattle were eaten alive by the pigs. Well, 
but it was extraordinarily cold last winter ; likewise I 
suppose it was extraordinarily long, at least the na\d- 
gation was stopped on the 20th October and on the 25th 
April I had to break through the ice to get my boat 
launched when going down to Peterborough, giving 
a period of five months and twenty-six days of winter, 
and for upwards of a month the ice had ceased to be 
safe for anything but foot passengers. This spring 


there was no remarkable late frost but the weather 
long continued cold, and seeds sown in the latter part of 
May soon got the start of those sown earlier. It may 
be too much to attribute to the climate the caterpillars 
that destroyed my wheat and the pigeons which com- 
menced upon my peas and oats and, as far as they 
went, cleared the ground so effectually you never 
would have guessed anything had been sown, more 
especially as they were said to be in unusual quantities 
this year. And I suppose I must be content with the 
same excuse for my grass and clover seeds having 
failed, for the fly having eaten three sowings of 
Swedish turnips and two of mangelwurzel, and not- 
wdthstanding repeated sowings having left me in the 
garden one solitary eatable radish and not a plant of 
any kind of cabbage; not to mention the nameless in- 
sect or whatever it is that ate off day by day as they 
appeared above ground the young plants of celery, 
lettuce, carrots and onions (N.B. onions from seed — 
from top onions I have a good crop — did you ever see 
top onions in England?) so that I have none of the two 
former and not above a handful of each of the latter. 
The next black day in my calendar is the 5th or 6th 
August when we had a frost, which though it did me 
little or no harm, killed many an acre of potatoes in 
low situations back in the bush. It is one great ad- 
vantage that we have near the lake and in high and 
dry situations, that we feel no ill effects from frosts 
which destroy everything in back clearings when one 
would have thought the bush would give them shelter. 
I say nothing of our wet harvest because I believe that 
it at any rate is an almost unprecedented occurrence, 
and I must acknowledge that that inexorable fellow 
the frost has treated us on the Lake shore at least very 


leniently this fall. My kidney beans and tomatoes only 
yielded to his power the morning I began this letter. 
I wonder that I can have written this Philippic against 
the climate of Canada at a moment when for a week 
past (to-day is the 15th) I have been enjoying weather 
which if I looked only to my comfort I would msh to 
last all the year round. We are in the middle of the 
Indian summer, vdth slight frosts at night and the 
thermometer seldom above fifty-four or fifty-five in 
the day, but the sky is without a cloud and the lake 
unruffled by the slightest breath of air, so that you may 
hear the wild ducks splashing about at a mile off; a 
slight haze spread over the face of the country is per- 
haps all you would wish away. I don't know whether 
this Indian summer is as healthy as it is agreeable, 
at any rate I have somehow or other caught a cold 
which may perhaps have inspired me with a little extra 
acerbity, but I give you simple facts and 

''Facts are chiels that winna ding 
An do^^Tia be disputed. ' ' 

Oct. 16. One more drawback to this climate I must 
mention and that is — ague. We used to think Stur- 
geon Lake almost exempt, and certainly it is better 
than Ops and some other places, but Need, Boyd* and 

* Mr. Mossom Boyd of Bobcaygeon. He came out in 1834 at 
the age of 19 and settled on the north shore of Sturgeon Lake 
about half way between Bobcaygeon and Sturgeon Point. A 
person of great energy and industry, he was said to have chopped 
his clearing himself. He was the only one of the settlers who 
stayed on the lake, and he prospered in his tenacity. He bought 
Mr. Need's mill property in Bobcaygeon, and did a large lumbering 
business from that centre, until his death in 1883, the business 
continuing in the hands of his sons. In the beginning of his 
career as a lumberer he rafted square timber to Quebec to be 
shipped to Europe, after the manner then practised. John Lang- 
ton was for some time partner ^\^th him in this business, and 
gives some account of it in these letters. 


both Mr. and Mrs. Frazer set the example this spring 
at the lower end, and after having sent down both 
Major Hamilton and one of his sons with an attack 
during the summer it has now fairly commenced 
amongst ourselves ; McAndrew and both the Macredies 
have had slight attacks. I don't believe that care is of 
any avail in keeping off the ague, at least we have 
now been for two summers oftener wet than dry I be- 
lieve and yet we felt no ill effects, whilst other cautious 
people — Need and Boyd for instance — took it. It must 
be acknowledged however that the night when Mc- 
Andrew 's symptoms first appeared he had been up to 
the knees in the lake and sat all evening and slept all 
night in the same clothes ; and in consequence of this 
warning I have since been more cautious. The Mac- 
redies were always rather given to changing stockings, 
and Jameson's projected marriage had already 
wrought a wonderful change in him. AATien I first came 
up the lakes I carried a spare pair of socks, and they 
were alternately on my feet and drying in the sun, but 
I soon got tired of that. In fact in summer one cannot 
keep dry ; if you walk in the bush you come occasionally 
upon a swamp, if you go in a canoe you have on shal- 
low shores to step into the water to avoid hurting the 
bark; and our boats, what with the original imperfec- 
tion of their structure, the cracks which the heat of 
the sun forms and the rough usage they get in draw- 
ing them up on stony shores, by concussions in rapids, 
etc., by which their seams are opened, are never so 
tight but that our feet get wet in them ; not to mention 
the wading which we are not yet free from. However 
it does not much signify if the only ill effect is an 
occasional fit of ague, from which even otherwise we 


could not reckon upon being free.* You will plainly 
see from the whole tenor of this letter that Canada is 
not in my opinion that Eldorado which most of the 
books you see at home would fain have it believed, but 
still I have not given the country up. The greatest 
difficulties are now over and I will give it a fair chance 
before I condemn it. The settlers who have come out 
within these last few years are falling oif by degrees ; 
but new ones are still coming, as confident and high in 
hopes as their predecessors were. I am told that num- 
bers are deserting Lake Simcoe and other pet settle- 
ments. x\s for us, numbers have never come amongst 
US as yet, but we are losing some of our few. Dudley 
is off, to join Col. Evans in Spain I believe, the Mac- 
redies are still putting off their departure but they will 
not linger through next summer; Jameson, if it had 
not been for his projected marriage, would have been 
off too, and McAndrew you will see in little more than 
a month after you receive this. He haWng been san- 
guine had gone I think into the other extreme, but still 
intended trying the country one year more. The news 
however of his brother's failure in Liverpool has de- 
cided him and he will leave us almost inmiediately.f 
He ^\ill be a great loss to our society ; however society 
\\dll be a very secondary consideration ^ith me next 

* He knew more about ague when it came to its climax in 1846, 
when whole families lay helpless together, and somebody, who 
might be able, had to get in their hai-vests. In a note made 
many years afterwards, he said, "There were a great many deaths, 
principally the very old and the very young, and sometimes we 
had difficulty in finding men strong enough to carry the coffins 
up to the churchyard." It is noteworthy that a letter wTitten in 
the ague year by another member of the Blythe family says, 
"The mosquitoes have been a dreadfxil plague this summer. I 
never knew them so numerous." 

t Mr. McAndrew returned to England to go into business in 
Liverpool; but in 1847 went to New York where he carried on 
a successful forwarding business, retiring to England in 1876. 


winter. I am going to keep no servant, and as I shall 
have twelve pigs and the cattle to look after I shall 
never be able to leave home. Perhaps Dennistoun and 
the Macredies may come to see me once a fortnight, 
but otherwise I shall be my own company. 

I have run on at such a rate about climate, crops, 
etc., that I have no room left to answer your letters ; I 
must however acknowledge receipt of the two packages, 
all the contents of which were very welcome, but the 
stock and waistcoat might have been dispensed with 
as they are articles of attire which I never wear. I 
couldn't help smiling when I unpacked them, so strong- 
ly did they contrast with my usual dress, viz., white 
trousers or such as were white on Sunday morning, a 
red shirt open at the breast and tucked up above the 
elbows — et voild tout — a coat never comes over my 
back except at Peterborough, or when I call on Mrs. 
Frazer. I do however carry a coat about with me — a 
blanket coat, the most comfortable and lasting wear I 
know, but it is seldom used except to sleep in at 
strange houses though very useful to kneel on in my 
canoe. This summer Robert Hamilton,* whose head- 
quarters here were at Mc Andrew's, stayed a week with 
me, and the day before he went two strangers dined at 
my house. To do them honour I put on a coat to 
dinner and said very gravely to Robert, *'Bob, put on 
your coat". Alas we found out after some hunting 
that the coat had never left McAndrew's — What a 
long story of coats ! 

* The Hon. Robert Hamilton, second son of Major Hamilton. 
He was at this time eleven years old, having been bom in Ire- 
land in 1824. He entered the sei-vice of the Hudson's Bay 
Company, in which he rose to be general inspector. After the 
settlement following the Kiel Rebellion, he became a member of 
the North West Council. He married the daughter of Robt. S. 
Miles, chief factor of the Hudson's Bay Company. 


Peterborough, Oct. 22. McAndrew has sold his place 
and will be off in a fortnight to the regret of every- 
body. I never knew such an universal favourite. His 
successor is a Mr. Hackett, a West Indian with a 
family. He himself will take possession immediately 
and he expects his family to join him. He is a very 
debonnaire sort of a man about forty or forty-five; but 
however agreeable he may be he must suffer by a com- 
parison with McAndrew. 

Admiral Vansittart* bought 24,000 acres at the sale 
and he is bound to bring out thirty families next sum- 
mer. Mr. Rebridge who is his managing man is to live 
on Balsam Lake this winter and go himself for the set- 
tlers next spring. 

* Admiral Vansittart, though his home was near Woodstock, 
had afterwards a house on Balsam Lake; a log house which is 
still in use, as part of a larger residence. 

AN Election, 
Chvkch Bvildinq, 














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LETTERS OF 1836 AND 1837 

[Since the date of the previous letter a visit had 
been paid to England ; recorded by a letter describing 
the return voyage from Liverpool to Boston which took 
thirty days, from May 10th to June 9th, 1836.] 

To HIS Father 

Blythe, June 21st, 1836 

You see from my date that I am once more at home ; 
but before I tell you how I found things here I must 
first conduct myself so far. 

I wrote to you on the voyage and concluded my 
letter as the pilot came on board. This was Thursday 
and the same evening I landed in Boston and having 
taken leave of my fellow passengers continued wander- 
ing about the city till bed time. In point of regularity 
and the beauty of its public buildings it is inferior to 
Philadelphia and in size and business of course it 
ranks below Ncav York, but I prefer it much to either. 
It is the only American city I have seen where the 
dwellings of the rich stand together, unconnected with 
the stores and warehouses. Here there are many 
streets containing nothing but handsome houses and 
most of them in small gardens and the streets are lined 
with magnificent chestnuts, horse chestnuts, walnuts, 
elms and plane trees which often completely meet over 
the street. Besides these there is a very handsome and 
extensive park in the city with beautiful rows of trees 



much superior to the public walk at New York, and 
the public buildings are many of them very handsome. 

[The journey from Boston to Oswego was by way of 
the Hudson River and Oswego Canal, as in 1833, but 
on this occasion raihvays came in as connecting links ; 
one from Boston" to Providence to take the boat by 
Long Island to New York, and a second from Albany 
to Schenectady where the canal trip began.] 

At Oswego I met Mr. Stewart* of Peterborough and 
his daughters who told me all the news of Upper Can- 
ada, which is of considerable importance. Tke House 
of Assembly as you will have heard stopped the sup- 
pliest and the Governor has dissolved them. Several 
of the old bureaucracy, thinking I suppose to be wiser 
than your Lords at home, have yielded to the Radical 
party and deserted Sir Francis t in his struggle with the 
House of Assembly, and their places in the Executive 
Council have been filled up by better men. I take it 
they rather repent their false move. I think like^^se 
the Radicals perceive their mistake by this time; they 
have touched the people in their pockets, the ill effects 
of their measures have been felt in every man's 
private concerns and it will take a great deal of their 
oratory upon the speculative question — whether the 
Executive Council is to be responsible to the people of 
Canada or the Colonial office — to make men forget the 
tangible evils produced by the stopping the supplies. 
The effect of this measure has been, besides the incon- 
venience which nmst necessarily result everywhere 
from such a step, that the money, which had been 
granted for roads, canals, etc., all over the country, 

* Hon. Thos. Alexander Stewart. (See Note p. 7). 

t An error, corrected on p. 171. 

t Sir Francis Bond Head, who succeeded Sir John Colborne. 


cannot be expended. Now the cry in Canada has al- 
ways been — open us the navigation of this river or 
grant us money to make that road ; and now, when more 
money had been granted than usual for such purposes 
and every body was cock-a-hoop, the disappointment 
is proportionately great when these sanguine expec- 
tations are suddenly crushed. Besides, there is hardly a 
farmer anywhere who had not proposed to himself to 
get good wages this summer at some of these works, or 
to find a demand for his pork or flour in consequence, 
or to reap some private benefit himself besides the 
general improvement resulting to the country. And it 
unfortunately happens that, just at the time these 
works here are stopped, our neighbours in the United 
States have been dividing amongst the several states 
large sums of the public money for erecting fortifica- 
tions and for other public works, and great numbers 
of the Canadians, in want of work at home, have gone 
across the lakes. The consequence has been that ad- 
dresses have poured in to the Governor from every 
quarter calling upon him to dissolve the House, and in 
my opinion now that the call has been obeyed not half 
of the Radicals will be returned again. It appears to 
me to be an important crisis ; and though the country 
may not go entirely to the dogs if the Radical party 
get into power again (which is the general opinion) 
at any rate it mil have the effect I know of deterring 
many people from investing capital here and even in- 
duce others who have embarked to draw out — if they 
can. The governor appears to be a very clever and 
most determined man, but I must say I don't like the 
style of his answers to the addresses; they may be 
suited to the majority of those he addresses, but there 
is a great want of dignity in them; he talks too 


much of himself and condescends too much in attacking 
the Radicals, whilst the style is almost colloquial, and 
many of them look almost like electioneering addresses. 
However they take wonderfully with the profanum 
vulgus. In one of these performances he certainly 
shews up the Radicals famously ; it appears that under 
the name of Commissioners for public works, for school 
lands and for one thing and another these chaps have 
been voting away to each other sundry large sums, and 
Sir Francis has published a list of them, in which ap- 
pear Peter Perry (the Radical leader), for seven com- 
missionerships £1,500 a year, Bidwell (the speaker of 
the house and late leader), £400, and many others, 
Peter Perry has canvassed three places but has no 
chance whatever. Mackenzie, who was the O'Connell 
of Canada, the great author of the Grievance Report, 
has voted against many of his oa\ti grievances because 
the Governor was ready to redress them, and, though 
he will come in, he will be comparatively innocuous, 
the very Radicals are ashamed of him. 

Upon the whole, I rather like the appearance of 
things; the Radicals have gone a step too far and I 
hope we shall hear little more of them for some years 
to come. But one Act they have passed which, though 
praised by everybody I have spoken with, will, if well 
considered, do great injury I think to the country. 
With a view to prevent the exportation of specie to 
the States — and the banks there have lately been run- 
ning upon banks here considerably — our legislative 
wisdom has ordained that an English shilling which 
used to pass for Is 2d shall henceforth be a legal ten- 
der at Is 3d and a sovereign which used to vary mth 
the exchange from 23s 6d to 24s shall be of the value 
of 24s 4d. Now it appears to me that this difference is 


so great that it would be worth while for the merchant 
in Lower Canada and the States to import English 
silver and force it upon us in payment for our grain, 
etc. at 1/3 p. shilling, whereas when we come to buy 
them they will only take it at its intrinsic value which 
is scarcely 1/21/4 at the usual rate of exchange, where- 
by upon every such double transaction Upper Canada 
will be a loser of about six or seven per cent. What 
effect mil it have on the exchange? Many people in- 
stead of drawing upon England will import specie no 
doubt and the exchange will rise pro tanto, but what 
effect it will have on the exchange between here and 
Montreal or the States I can't make out. One thing 
however is certain, that the passing of this Act put 
£15,000 into the pockets of the Bank of Upper Canada, 
and it is a curious coincidence that full one half of the 
House of Assembly and nineteen-twentieths of the 
Legislative Council are deeply interested in the said 
Bank. But though they made such a profit upon the 
specie in their vaults, it may not be so much to their 
advantage after all, for besides the loss they must sus- 
tain in their interchange of notes with the States 
banks, the amount of British silver which will flow 
into the country will very much diminish their issues 
of notes I should think. 

Whilst upon the subject of banks I may as well ob- 
serve that the Land Bank which I told you of has 
totally failed, but some gentlemen about Peterborough 
have taken it up with some modifications and are about 
starting it again. I have no confidence either in them 
or their system and would not take their notes to any 
amount. Our Farmers Bank however is in a flourish- 
ing condition I understand and a branch of the Com- 


mercial Bank is about to be established at Peter- 

This has been a very long digression, I must now re- 
turn to my journey but you must expect another touch 
at politics in my next after the election. 

I left you last at Cobourg on Thursday morning. 
After breakfast I joined Mr. Stewart in a waggon up 
to Peterborough, raining tremendously all the day. 
Blythe at last came in sight, all right and where it used 
to be, and we found Dennistoun and Gawin and Bob 
Hamilton with Tom* on their road from the mill. 
John Menzies was almost out of his senses for joy, for 
he was much alarmed with the responsibility that 
would rest with liim if I had not come out before Tom 
left; and my letter to Tom not ha^ang arrived they 
were in the dark respecting me. John paid me the 
compliment to say that "By gosh and by golly he was 
as glad as if I had been his father." In excuse for his 
vagaries I must say that the previous day being the 
ISthf (this unexpected date shews me my letter ought 
to be dated the 22nd) John had gone to visit Wallis, 
and upon stating that there was no whiskey at Blythe 
and that by an article in his agreement with me he 
was secured the right of getting drunk on that day, 
the necessary article was supplied and the effects 
might not have worn off. However all were glad to 
see me and not the least old Neptune who sat looking 
at me and brushing the floor with his tail by the hour. 

* Tom Macredie, the younger brother. The elder Macredie 
had accompanied the writer to England and did not come out again. 
He and his brother, after other adventures, finally settled in 
Australia. About 1870 there came to Ottawa from Australia a 
long letter from W. A. Macredie who, having seen in a newspaper 
a notice concerning public accounts of Canada which w-as signed 
John Langton, WTote an account of his doings since 1836. 

t The anniversary of Waterloo. 


John was dispatched to the Falls for Wallis and Mr. 
McLaren and we spent a pleasant evening. 

Monday, after all were gone Tom and I went over the 
farm and found everything most satisfactory except- 
ing the destruction of some hundred bushels of pota- 
toes by the frost and a field of four acres of wheat so 
destroyed by the surface water pouring down in the 
spring that it was reso^\Ti with barley. 

Tom has been most industrious and economical, 
rather too much of the latter if all stories are true — 
of his living on bread and milk for a week and going 
to dine with Wallis on a Sunday to repair the waste of 
the system. At any rate when I arrived there was 
nothing in the house but flour, potatoes and milk, and 
a chance haunch of venison. Tom has kept most ac- 
curate accounts upon a system of his own invention 
which amused me so much I will give you a specimen. 
Thus, some items from May: 

Whom When Things given away Things rec'd. 

The cow . . . 2nd a heifer. 

John 3rd a day's work. 

Alexander . 5th . .4i/^ lbs. salt 

Little sow. . 7th 6 little pigs. 

Weather ... 8th thefirstshow- 

er of rain. 

Boyd 20th.. The black ox (lent) 

Myself 22nd the tooth of a 

rake in my 

foot — most 

horribly sore. 

Tom was a good deal cast down when first he got his 

recall,* but he is getting reconciled now though he still 

* Brought by the writer from the elder Macredie, then in Eng- 


says whenever he is his o^\ti master he will return. 
About a month ago he got the ague and took so little 
care of himself that Wallis took him up to the Falls 
and put John Meuzies in possession of Blythe. The 
ague is bad this year, but he and Mrs. Frazer are the 
only persons who have had it on the lake yet. The 
gentlemen at the lower end want to join us in the par- 
son but want a church of their own and propose spend- 
ing some of their money on it;* if he does go occasion- 
ally there to do duty it must only be in proportion to 
their share of the funds. Wallis and Dennistoun have 
got about £150 and expect a little more ; Jameson has 
got no answer, if he has written which from his dila- 
toriness is doubtful. He has never brought his wife 
up and I think will go home. Capt. Dobbs is coming 
out again. I think I must have mentioned the expected 
settlement of Capt. Purdon and his family; they are 
now up and their house nearly ready. His friend Capt. 
Davidson is also to be a settler. There is a report of 
the admiral's settlement being given up, but they are 
still going on. Wallis takes admirably to the country, 
is very industrious and has made astonishing improve- 
ments at the Falls. The rye grass and trefoil are work- 
ing very well. 

I go dowTi to the election to-morrow but probably 
shall not go to Toronto for three weeks — they are too 
busy at the Government offices to attend to me. 

To HIS Father 

Toronto, July 13, 1836 

In my last letter concluded at Peterborough I 
brought my motions dowTi to the time when I was 

* Need describes the opening of a church in "our settlement," 
which should mean Rokeby and Bobcaygeon, on March 9, 1836. 


starting for the election.* Tom Macredie was left at 
my house in charge, though with the exception of 
weeding potatoes there was nothing to take charge of, 
and Wallis, Dennistoun, Gawin Hamilton and I went 
down in "VVallis's new gig. 

Before I get you any farther on the road I must 
introduce you to the Calypso, who will cut a prominent 
figure in the events of the ensuing week. 

The Calypso, (for you must know that the whole 
naval armament belonging to Fenelon Falls whe- 
ther canoes, scows, skiffs or boats are all named after 
some of the characters of the Archbishop of Cam- 
bray's epic), the Calypso I say is a two-oared gig 
brought out by Wallis from Glasgow, and, though be- 
ing built solely for speed she is much too slight to 
carry a load or be of general use in such a rough coun- 
try as ours, she is extremely convenient to go down to 
Peterborough in and she will serve as a model by 
which our boat builders may improve. 

As the Calypso was destined to carry the honoured 
weight of our candidate McDonell it became necessary 
after she had carried us to Mud Lake that we should 
carry her to Peterborough ;t and as the road had been 
newly ploughed (a manner of equalizing the ruts and 
holes which is called turnpikeing in this primitive coun- 
try), and there had been heavy rains for a week be- 
fore, I can assure you we had no sinecure. We picked 
up three volunteers by the way and they occasionally 
gave us a spell, but nevertheless we were unanimously 
agreed that though very light on her o^^^l element the 
Calypso is confoundedly heavy on a ploughed road, a 

* The Sully election. The candidates were Henry Ruttan, 
Alexander McDonell, George M. Boswell, and Dr. John Gilchrist. 
The last was in sympathy with Mackenzie. McDonell was elected. 
tUsually called six or six and one-half miles. 


truth to which two black patches on my shoulders 
testify to this day. The old steamer on the Otonabee 
which had been sunk last fall below Peterborough, 
having been raised and refitted to carry do\\Ti our 
voters, was now ready and was starting the next morn- 
ing for the Kice Lake to tow up two large scows to 
serve in the same cause; but unfortunately as the 
steamer, like everything else here, was in debt and the 
creditor was a leading Radical below, a report was 
spread that she was to be seized at the Rice Lake and 
Wallis Avas requested to take down his crew in her 
for the double purpose of throwing the bailiff into the 
lake if he ventured on board and of keeping an eye on 
the Captain who was too well known as a Radical to 
be trusted so far alone. "We four accordingly with T. 
Fortune, a younger brother of J. B. F.,* and Wallis 's 
servant went dow^l in her well armed with shilelaghs, 
and after a tedious navigation of a day and a night 
returned without even the satisfaction of meeting a 
bailiff to duck. 

On Monday morning at five o'clock we started with 
the steamer full of voters and the Calypso in tow until 
w^e came wdthin six or seven miles of Sully on the Rice 
Lake where the election was held, when Ave took Mc- 
Donell Avith Messrs. ShaAv and Kirkpatrickf on board, 
and Dennistoun and I pulled them on to Sully, beating 
the steamer by half a mile — or rather keeping our 
distance for we got nearly as much start of her. We 
stayed on the ground till all the speeches were over and 

* J. B. Fortune, who married one of the daughters of Major 

tMr. Stafford Frederick Kirkpatrick, a barrister, later y.U, 
who at this time, at the age of 25, was settled in Peterborough. 
He afterwards went to Kingston to join his brother Thomas, the 
father of Sir George Airey Kirkpatrick, Lieut.-Govemor of On- 
tario from 1882 to 1897. 


then rowed off to Spoke Island about a niile and a half 
from Sully in the middle of the lake, which we had fixed 
upon for our encampment and which for the future, in 
honour of the cause, has been named Constitution 

We had brought down with us a large marquee which 
had served as a hospital tent during the emigration of 
^25 and '26,* and as a raft touched at the island in the 
afternoon we impressed sundry boards which made us 
a long table and benches. The island is about twenty 
or thirty acres in size and beautifully situated to com- 
mand a view of the other islands and the whole extent 
of the lake, and, being covered with natural grasses and 
only a few oak trees and shrubs scattered about it, it 
made an excellent situation for an encampment. Our 
party consisted besides ourselves of Shaw and Kirk- 
patrick, — Wallis 's man attended as cook, etc. We each 
brought from Peterborough lots of cold prog; this 
with venison and fish which we got from the Indians 
afforded us good living and we alwa^^s had half a 
dozen guests, either of our friends at Peterborough or 
of the gentlemen who came up to vote from other parts 
of the county, besides our candidate who usually spent 
the evening with us, and we often had very good 
speechifying. We spent a very pleasant week alto- 
gether, and if our presence was not very useful to the 
cause (Wallis being the only voter) we certainly added 
much to the animation of the scene. The beautiful 
little Calypso with her flags flying and her crew all 
dressed alike in striped guernsey frocks, white trow- 
sers and low straw hats with blue ribbands, and each 
a British ensign as a scarf, rowing to and from the 

* The emigration of Irish settlers to Peterborough under Peter 
Robinson, who was afterwards made Commissioner of Crown 


island and taking out the candidates every morning to 
address the electors as they came in in the steamboat, 
was a sight that Rice Lake had never seen before — I 

All this is very ridiculous on paper, but in the midst 
of an election it is another thing. 

On the Friday we pulled to the head of the lake which 
is about four miles from the polling booth for the 
County of Durham where I gave my vote, but for this 
solitary vote which was not wanted we lost all the fun 
at Sully, the Radicals having given in during our ab- 
sence, McDonell and Ruttan being 176 ahead and 65 
voters in possession of the polling booth. Upon hear- 
ing the news we hurried back and by our haste lost the 
fun at Durham likewise, the Radicals there giving in 
half an hour after. 

The next day we packed up our duds and returned 
up the Otonabee in tow of the steamer, but something 
having gone wrong she had to stop so often that at last 
about ten o 'clock we left her and pulled up the rest of 
the way to Peterborough again about half an hour too 
late for the bonfires and illuminations with which that 
ancient city celebrated our victory. 

There was astonishingly little fighting considering 
the number of wild Irishmen we l)rought down, but 
they were altogether too strong for the Yankees, who 
after giving their votes generally mounted their horses 
and made off; so for want of better game our Pat- 
landers occasionally got up a snug fight amongst them- 
selves, but though there were three or four kilt I did 
not hear of any very serious damage. 

The Constitutionalists throughout the country have 
gained a glorious victory. Mackenzie is turned out 
which we had hardly expected ; Perry having no chance 


on his owTi interest was taken up by Bidwell, who 
hitherto has always been able to bring in with himself 
a member for Lennox and Addington, but the loyal 
party turned them both out, and there is now only one 
Radical of influence in the House. The House consists 
of sixty-three members and of the majority who threw 
out the supplies only thirteen have been reelected and 
only seventeen Radicals in all. I should be almost afraid 
that the Tories will be too strong and get back to some 
of their old tricks now that like the bull in the china 
shop they have it all their own way; but the people 
will watch them closely, and I have great confidence in 
the determination of Sir Francis Head to redress all 
grievances, which I don't think now are many. I have 
sent you by Tom Macredie a copy of the report of the 
Committee upon the subject of the Executive Council, 
the subject on which he split with the House, and as 
they touch upon most of their favourite topics in it, 
it will put you somewhat au fait as to our politics. But 
remember that it is only a party report and do not 
make up your mind till you have heard — alteram 

In my last I spoke of the money bills, as if the House 
had refused to approjDriate money for them;* before I 
closed my letter I perceived my mistake but forgot to 
correct myself. The money bills passed both Houses, 
but Sir Francis suspended his assent upon the supplies 
being stopped, and thus the Radicals have tried to 
throw the blame of the Act upon him; but he made 
kno\\Ti to the House that if the supplies were refused 
he would mthhold the royal assent from all the other 
bills ; and thus they acted with their eyes open. With 
whom the fault lies signifies not much, for the thing 

* See p. 160. 


itself is not of much consequence except a temporary 
inconvenience, though I have no doubt it had an aston- 
ishing effect upon the elections. 

After spending Sunday in Peterborough we returned 
up the lakes getting some extra men to help in carry- 
ing out the Calypso. Having seen everything going 
right at home and contracted for building a barn and 
logging up about ten to fifteen acres I took advantage 
of the only spare time there will be until winter, to go 
do^\^l with Wallis to Kingston where we each of us 
purchased a boat at the sale of the naval stores. His 
is a large jolly boat pierced for eight oars but prin- 
cipally intended for sailing, quite new, which must 
have cost at least £30, knocked down at £9 5/-, and 
mine a four-oared man of war's gig which would cost 
originally as much — price £8 10/-. 

From Kingston I took the steamer to this place and 
wrote my letter up to the last page, after which I sallied 
out to pay my instalments at the Government offices, 
but on my road I learned that Sir Francis had made 
a general clearance, and amongst the rest Peter Robin- 
son, the Commissioner of Cro^vn Lands,* had that 
morning been displaced. • 

As it was useless of course to introduce my business 
to a man who had only been a few hours in office, I took 
the opportunity of going across to Niagara where I 
spent three or four days with Sawbridge.f 

This morning I have called on Sir Francis Head who 
is a very agreeable little man but in one respect in- 
ferior to his predecessor, Sir John — he never asked me 
to dinner. 

* See note p. 169. 

t An English acquaintance. 



I have at last put my U. E. rights into a fair train 
which have given me a good deal of annoyance, but I 
am afraid I may yet have a journey down to Kingston 
after harvest to get one of the transfer deeds. I shall 
have to wait here two or three days more for McDonell 
without whom I cannot get my other deeds out. 

To HIS Father 

Blythe, Sept. 22, 1836 

As I might have very well foreseen, McDonell, for 
whom I was waiting in Toronto, never arrived, and 
consequently I left vdth only half my business finished 
and arrived in Peter- 



borough the next day. 
The next day was spent 
in that delightful pas- 
time, which I had 
thought I was no more 
to indulge in, namely 
wading up the rapids, 
but I have partaken of 
that amusement this 
year to my heart's con- 

The apology for a 
lock, which the stupidity 
(if in some cases it be 
not worse) of the Com- 
missioners has imposed 
upon us, certainly facil- 
itates the progress of 

small boats, at least in some states of the water, but 
for scows it is decidedlv worse than it used to be. 



Formerly we used to unload at McConnell's drag the 
scow up the shoot, load again, and by dint of rowing, 
poling, warping, wading and lifting her over occasional 
obstacles with handspikes we got her up somehow. 
But now the main channel is dannned and the side 
channel, though up to the neck in most parts, has a bar 
at the top which a loaded scow will not pass ; we have 
therefore to take the scow first in the lock and there 
unload her, then take her back to McConnell's, and, 
getting her first over the shoot, wade up to Sawers's 
house and then drop down again to the lock to load. 
Boats that can be lifted bodily out of the water we 
lift out at the lock and carry them over to the canal, 
but large boats must come up at (a) where it is very 
deep and a tremendous stream running and where I 
have generally had the satisfaction of going over head. 
Indeed wading is hardly the proper name for our 
operations, for a short man like me generally contrives 
to get up to the neck if not over head at once. Upon 
the present occasion we were nearly all day and it was 
very cold weather but we managed to get all our three 
crafts over the rapids, and then leaving the men to get 
on as best they could, we, the aristocracy, pushed on to 
the Falls in the Calypso. 

I was nearly four days at home, or rather on 
the road between the Falls and Blythe, getting 
do^vn lumber for my new barn, and on the fourth 
the barn was raised, there being in all twenty- 
nine of us, a large party for my small accom- 
modations. How they slept I do not know; I never 
went to bed at all, for Mr. Kirkpatrick was to give a 
grand party the following day to which the rest of 
them were gone down, and Dennistoun and Gawin, 
with two of AVallis 's men who were to officiate as flute 


players, came down to Bl^^the in the evening in the 
Telemaque. AVe supped and sat up till we calculated 
we should have daylight for the rapids and then 
started on our journey ; and though we were two good 
hours in the rapids, where we had once almost deter- 
mined to leave the Telemaque to take her chance and 
find our way home as we could, we got to McConnell's 
before anybody was up. The morning being very cold 
we indulged ourselves, whilst the breakfast was pre- 
paring, in drying our clothes, sitting in our shirts till 
our trousers were dry, and then putting on these, 
whilst the former was before the fire, the wanting gar- 
ment being replaced for the time by a blanket. I men- 
tion this more particularly as it is a method I have 
only lately discovered of drying myself when in a 
mixed company; and I am beginning to be more par- 
ticular about wet clothes, lately, if opportunity offers 
of drying them, on account of sundry rheumatic pains 
which generally succeed a bout at Bobcaygeon. 

Starting after breakfast we reached Peterborough 
at eleven and consequently had plenty of time to re- 
fresh ourselves after our fatigues, call upon our 
friends, etc., until it was time to go to the ball which 
went off very well. The house being but small was 
reserved entirely for receiving rooms, card room and 
supper room, and a tastily arranged covered walk led 
through the garden to our old marquee, which, having 
been our house on Constitution Island, now served as 
a ball room, gaily ornamented with boughs and gar- 
lands of flowers, and the grass was our floor. A very 
pleasant evening it proved and it lasted till four 
o'clock. Of course I was amongst the last fo leave 
and the sun was up before I was in bed. Nevertheless 
I was up again before eight and all morning occupied 


in getting the Alice* up and safely lashed on to the 
wheels of a waggon, which were separated to the 
necessary length by a temporary pole. This was a 
very tedious job, and before she was well off it was 
afternoon. I saw her part of the way to Mud Lake 
and then left her to go on with Need, Atthill and the 
flute players and I returned myself to take an oar in 
the Telemaque next morning, when we were to con- 
duct a party of ladies up to the Falls. I spent a very 
pleasant evening at the Hamiltons and about eleven 
was preparing for bed, expecting not to start till late 
next morning, when I found it was decided we should 
push on all the way to the Falls and consequently were 
to start at five a.m. I had nothing prepared and it was 
near one before I was in bed, but next morning I was 
stirring soon after four, collecting our party. We 
breakfasted at Mud Lake, and about eight o'clock the 
expedition sailed. The Telemaque, with myself, Den- 
nistoun, Gawin Hamilton and Tom Fortune as the 
crew, carried Dr. and Mrs. Barclay and Miss Fisher, 
the latter two sisters of Mrs. Kirkpatrick, and Mr. 
and Miss Stewart ; the Calypso rowed by Wallis, Grif- 
fin and two Messrs. Kirkpatrick and a Mr. Foster. We 
got over the rapids without much difficulty and soon 
after dark reached the Falls. You may imagine I slept 
pretty well having had only about six hours sleep dur- 
ing the preceding three days and working pretty hard 
all the time. 

The next day after prayers at home, I called on the 
ladies, dined at Dennistoun's, and home that night. 
Monday, came up to breakfast at the Falls in order to 
take the ladies up to Balsam Lake but the weather was 

* The boat bought at Kingston p. 172. 


so bad we could not get so far, but to make amends we 
had the flute players in after dinner and had a dance, 
the first thing of the kind, since creation, in these parts. 
I went home at night but returned before daylight for 
a hunt in which I was to have the honour of taking 
Miss Fisher* in my canoe. Our hunt was unsuccessful, 
but after losing the deer we all continued up to Balsam 
Lake, Miss Fisher being under the guidance of myself 
and Griffin and in celebration of such an honour my 
canoe by special permission was christened the Janet 
Fisher. This young lady you must know occupies so 
conspicuous a place here, not only because she is the 
first who has ever been so far back, but also because 
she is in herself a remarkably agreeable person and the 
best suited to the backwoods of any young lady I have 
seen in Canada. She is however too high game for 
such as me, I am afraid, having a very nice fortune of 
her OMm. Another pleasant evening succeeded and 
the next morning the party returned into the world 

Only one event occurred in August, viz., the death 
of the old Major. Gawin had already conunenced to 
settle on his father 's grant on Cameron Lake and Mrs. 
Hamilton has determined to leave Peterborough and 
come to live with him. 

Next in order of events is the receipt of your letter 
announcing the proposed grant of the Society to our 
church, which was of course a matter of rejoicing to 
us. With regard to this subject things do not proceed 
as smoothly as I had hoped. I wrote immediately 
upon the receipt of yours to the Bishop of Quebec and 

* Daughter of Judge Fisher of Lennox Co. and sister of Mrs. 
Stafford Kirkpatrick. She married Mr. Wallis in 1840. 


to the Archdeacon of York,* neither of whom has hon- 
oured me with an answer. I wrote also to Lord Mt. 
Cashel, who is a proprietor in Fenelon, but [doubt] 
whether we shall get anything from his lordship. Sec- 
ondly the Verulam gentlemen will not join us, so that 
the whole brunt of the thing will fall on Dennistoun, 
Wallis and myself, for I have no confidence whatever 
in Jameson doing anything; Capt. Dobbs, who is at 
last arrived amongst us, may perhaps do something. 
We are also applying amongst our friends in Toronto, 
but I fear we cannot reckon upon much from them. 
Thirdly, AVallis had forgotten what was distinctly 
understood at the time though unfortunately only in 
conversation, \tlz., that all we could collect should go 
to provide a permanent salary, and he wanted to apply 
some of it towards the building and clearing. I have 
had a hard battle upon this subject and at last it is 
thus settled. Xo money whatever is to be laid out on 
the church, all the expenses of that must fall upon 
Jameson and Wallis in whose village it is ; no money 
whatever is to be laid out on the clearing, and Jame- 
son and AVallis are to provide all the lumber for the 
house ; and whatever work we cannot do ourselves, and 
Avhich must be paid for, is to come out of the fund — 
this however will not reach £20 at the very most ; but 
I fear we shall have hard work to get more than fifteen 
acres cleared. But the greatest difficulty is to get the 
land; I am afraid there mil be difficulty in getting a 
grant of land from Government; last year it might 

* The bishop of Quebec continued to be so called after the original 
Province of Quebec was divided into the Provinces of Upper and 
Lower Canada, in 1791. His diocese still extended over both Prov- 
inces. He had two archdeacons in Upper Canada; the archdeacons 
of York and Kingston. It is the former, the Ven. John Strachan, 
who was concerned — and apparently unconcerned — in the matter of 
the Church for Fenelon. 


have been done, but what resolution the present par- 
hament may come to on the subject of Clergy Reserves 
I don 't know ; we shall petition and I hope we shall get 
our grant, but if we do not there will be a considerable 
difficulty. Jameson and Wallis ought to give the land, 
as they own full 12,000 acres, being more than a tenth 
of the two to"v\Tiships, but Jameson is a very imprac- 
ticable man and AVallis does not like to promise ; I have 
however a promise from Wallis, that if the land we can 
procure is not convenient to the Falls he will give a 
town, lot (half an acre) upon which we will build the 
house, and if we get no grant, he mil give two lots. 
I will give one hundred acres if we cannot get a grant 
and I think I can promise in that case that by exchange 
or otherwise we can get two hundred acres at a toler- 
able distance, say a mile and a half or two miles off for 
a farm. As to the subscriptions we have very little in- 
formation here upon the subject. Dennistoun and 
Wallis wrote under the impression that the money was 
to go to finishing the church, etc., and somewhere about 
£150 was collected, not including an offer of £50 from 
Mrs. Dennistoun which was declined as being too 
much. Now that the object of the subscription is 
finally decided and the proposal of the Society knowTi, 
they have written again with a copy of the Society's 
letter and all subscriptions are to be paid to Messrs. 
B. Heywood & Co.,* as collected. You will therefore 
know the result as soon as we do. 

Tell McAjidrew, if I have no time to write to him 
to-day, that Need has set up a store at Bobcaygeon 
and serves things out himself from behind the counter 

* The private bank of Sir Benjamin HeyAVOod, of which William 
Langton was manager. 


— this after all the aristocratic notions will amuse 

To HIS Father 

Peterborough, Jany. 8, 1837 

Almost my last sentence was that Dennistoun 
amongst others was certain of remaining amongst us. 
Now it appears that on that very day Dennistoun had 
determined to leave us. I must acknowledge that the 
last Scotchman leaving us looked rather ominous and 
shook my re\T.ving confidence in the country ; but I am 
happy to inform you that such an evil omen is not 
likely to take place. After some weeks hesitation and 
consultation ^\'ith his brother in New Y^ork he has fin- 
ally determined to remain where he is and is very 
actively prej^aring for extended operations. But be- 
sides this determination which is very agreeable to us 
individually I think the whole prospects of the coun- 
try are materially improved. Notwithstanding all the 
abuse which the Spectator lavishes upon Sir Francis 
Head and the Tories, our Tory Parliament is doing its 
duty by the comitry and seems determined to press for- 
ward what is principally wanted — great public works. 
Without roads, canals and other similar improvements 
it is impossible the country can ever thrive, and this 
fact might have been taught them by our neighbours 
over the water. At last we have got a Parliament that 
seems inclined to do us justice in this respect, and if 

* In S'!x Years in the Bush Mr. Need says, "In consequence of 
so large an influx of settlers in the Autumn, I had thought it 
prudent to lay in a considerable store of flour and pork, v.-hich 
proved extremely beneficial to my neighbours, and returned me 
a considerable profit. In this country, a gentleman may, if he 
chooses, keep an open shop or store without derogation, and it 
is no uncommon thing to see a man of education and acquirement 
standing behind a counter." 


the Legislative Council does not follow the example of 
the Lords at home the country next summer will be all 
alive T\'ith important public improvements. There is 
some consolation for us even if they do put an extin- 
guisher on the bills of the lower house, in the certainty 
that in this country, where the abuse is not hallowed 
by antiquity, there will be very little trouble in getting 
rid of the nuisance. To the grant of £16,000 of last 
year, which was reserved, the royal assent is passed, 
and next summer the works at Bobcaygeon, Purdy's, 
and Peterborough will conmaence. £50,000 has been 
granted by the lower house for the Trent but has not 
yet passed the upper, and £500,000 for roads is in 
progress if it has not already passed the lower house. 
This however, which was principally intended to form 
one grand road through the Province from end to end, 
is not expected to pass and might perhaps embarrass 
our finances too much ; but it is expected that, instead 
of it, £75,000 will be granted to be divided amongst the 
districts for the making and impro\'ing of inner roads. 

Amongst numerous public and private bills which are 
in progress those that affect us most are for the im- 
provement of "Windsor harbour and one for a ma- 
cadamized road from thence to Scugog Lake. If these 
are passed we shall be almost independent of the 
Trent when the locks at Purdy's are complete. 

But though all this is very satisfactory it does not 
afford me so much gratification as another fact, which, 
though not so obvious, is becoming daily more evident. 
The farmers, who for years have been entangled in the 
meshes of the storekeepers, are clearly getting out of 
their books and becoming independent, and the extra- 
ordinary price of all produce this year will I hope 
complete their emancipation. This looks well and will 


be a permanent advantage to the country and even to 
the storekeepers in the end. 

I must now speak of the church. I wrote to the 
Bishop of Quebec and the Archdeacon of York upon 
the subject and requested them to allow themselves to 
be named trustees. The former being in England the 
Bishop of Montreal answered me in a very cool strain, 
and the latter is too much engaged in politics* to think 
of such trifles and consequently left me without reply. 
At last I got a second letter from the Bishop, not much 
more satisfactory and evidently misunderstanding or 
forgetting what I had formerly said. Upon this I ap- 
plied to our parson here, Mr.D 'Olier (at Peterborough), 
and making him one of the trustees have left him to cor- 
respond ^\itla. the Bishop. In the meantime it is useless 
to leave the money doing nothing in England especially 
as the Scotch subscriptions have been remitted to New 
Y'ork, and you may tell William that in the course of a 
week or two we shall draw upon Heywoods for £150. 

My own operations may be very succinctly given. 
The lakes closed almost immediately after my last, 
but opened again for a day or two and were long im- 
passable. During this time I was principally engaged 
working on tlie roads until the middle of December. 
On Christmas Day all the neighbourhood dined with 
me, then with Gawin Hamilton ; Tuesday with Wallis, 
Wednesday at Dennistoun's, Thursday at Blythe, 
Friday with Mr. Haig (at McAndrew's old place), 
Saturday at Dennistoim's, Sunday, Jan. 1st, with 
AVallis where we had the backwoods delicacy of beaver 
tails. On Monday we went down to Bobcaygeon to 
elect Township officers and dine with Need, and on 
Tuesday came dowai here. 

* He was a member of the Executive Council. (See p. xxvii). 


To HIS Father 

Blythe, Feb. llth, 1837 

The last year's grant of £16,000 for our waters, 
which was reserved for the Royal assent, has been 
passed, and an Act to amend part of it with an extra 
£1,000 is in progress ; a grant for £70,000 for the Trent 
has passed the lower house and has been read Uviee in 
the upper ; the question of the Clergy Reserves seems 
likely to be at last settled by giving to the English, 
Scotch, and Roman Catholic churches and some dis- 
senting congregations shares of the fund in proportion 
to the members of the different sects ; the back town- 
ships of our district will probably this session be 
formed into a new district to be called Colborne, with 
Peterborough as the capital. Farm produce, especially 
wheat and rye, is enormously high, wheat being sold 
in the front currently at 8/- and 8/6 where last year 
4/- was considered a great price. This is a great thing 
for farmers who have much to sell, but they are few 
and I fear it may have a very disadvantageous effect 
upon the country, as no contractors can be found to 
undertake the works contemplated next summer whilst 
provisions are at such a ruinous price. I unfortunately 
shall not have more than one hundred bushels to sell, 
but that as far as it goes will yield a handsome profit. 

I will answer all your questions and suggestions 
with regard to the steps which should be taken if you 
come out. The plan which I have at present in con- 
templation for the house is the same which I once 
shewed you when last at home, which I will here ap- 
pend for your guidance. 

Ground floor. From the verandah you will enter 
into a porch and thence into b the hall or whatever you 



call it. The porch will prevent much cold coming in 
with Ton ; but as it appears to me that there is no way 
of keeping a house warm half so effectually as keeping 
the passages upstairs warm I have made this ante- 

room tolerably large with a view of having a stove in 
it comnmnicating with the chimney of the room c, 
perhaps a Kussian stove, of which more anon. From 
b you go to the right into the dining room and to the 
left into the drawing room, h being lighted by a window 
over the stairs. I then would build the kitchen e, a 
separate house altogether, and join it to the other 
house by frame work; the intervening space being 
entered under the stairs, on the right you have the 
back door and on the left steps going do^m into the 
cellars ; before you is the door into the kitchen. A 
back kitchen might be added beyond, and perhaps it 
would be ad^dsable in building the chinmey to have a 
fireplace on both sides put up even if the back kitchen 
were not inmiediately built. This kitchen being a foot 
lower than the other rooms, when you go upstairs you 
can get into the upper storey of that part at / and 

Blythe at the Present Time 


afterwards rise two steps more to the landing, out of 
which go two bed rooms of 14 x 9i/4 each and a dress- 
ing room of 71/2 foot square for you and thence into 
your bedroom. It may strike you that the window of the 
back room, g, looks not into the light of day but into 
the kitchen part of the building, but as that building 
is lower than the main one and as the ridge of the roof 
comes somewhat to the right of the window there will 
be room enough. Now when I have told you that the 
height of the rooms is nine feet from floor to floor or 
eight and a half to the beams you will have all the 
dimensions of the house. I ought to add that the upper 
storey is only a half storey, the walls being only four 
feet high, but as the roof has a great pitch a ceiling 
may be carried across at eight feet from the floor and 
thus but a small portion of the roof will be left exposed 
to admit heat or cold. I should also mention that the 
three windows in the sitting rooms will be more than 
four feet broad ; the three on the gables upstairs more 
than three feet and the two dormer windows in the 
front about three feet; the exact dimensions depend- 
ing upon the kind of glass which is most convenient to 

I am aware of many inconveniences attending this 
kind of house, but all things taken into account and 
paying some regard to outward appearances I can 
think of no better. The question must first be decided 
between log, frame and stone ; the latter is too expen- 
sive and the frame houses, though hardly more ex- 
pensive than a good log house, are miserable shells 
which can never be kept warm. I therefore decided for 
a good log house, raised on a stone foundation to pro- 
tect the lower logs and the logs to be hewn square and 
bedded in mortar; it may afterwards be plastered or 


papered inside and painted or roughcast outside. Some 
thing outside should be done to protect the timber, and 
the unsightliness of the rough logs inside might here- 
after be obviated the cheapest by papering — not on the 
logs but on canvas — though a coat of plaster would be 
a more effectual safeguard against vermin. 

The question being decided in favour of a log house 
the first objection arises that you cannot safely build 
a log house of two full stories even if you curtail be- 
yond what is desirable the height of your rooms. Y^ou 
must therefore either build as I propose or be alto- 
gether on the ground floor. (And here I must observe 
that I have never felt that being immediately under the 
roof renders such upper rooms disagreeably hot or 
cold if you lath and plaster over the rafters.) To the 
latter plan there are several objections, viz., you must 
have double the quantity of roofing, which besides the 
expense opens a double surface to the attacks of rain 
and snow; you must have a greater number of chim- 
neys which besides the expense exposes you more to 
fire ; thirdly, it is difficult to plan such a house mthout 
losing much room in passages, etc., and at best it would 
be a rambling concern; and fourthly, logs beyond a 
certain length are very unwieldy and troTiblesome 
things to manage and some at least on every side must 
go the whole length to bind the work well together. 
This last objection leads me to notice your sketch of a 
large square double house. It is the simplest and, 
except for the size of the logs, would be undoubtedly 
the cheapest ; but such a house is difficult to plan 
without some loss of room in the central part, and at 
any rate the kitchen must be turned out of doors alto- 
gether. It has also another objection, the roof cannot 
have sufficient pitch, to throw off the wet and snow 


well, without becoming a very cumbersome affair, and 
consequently the upper rooms cannot be so lofty as 
when a narrow house allows you to have a high pitch. 
However I believe it might be a cheaper house and, 
from having fewer outside walls, a warmer one, and 
I will reconsider the matter. The angles in the roof 
which my house presents and it does not may be an- 
other objection; they certainly constitute the chief 
extra expense, but I have never found them to leak 
in such houses as I have seen. My outside chimney is 
also an objection which I do not well see how I can 
obviate. A Russian stove is a thing I have all along 
thought of building, but it is such a large affair that I 
have been somewhat puzzled where to put it. I don't 
think any of us would like to be deprived of a fireplace 
in the sitting rooms, but perhaps a stove between the 
dining room and hall might replace the fire in the 
former, or the hall might be made a little larger and 
thus a stove might be introduced into it. 

With regard to the cooking stove which you mention, 
I would certainly oppose such a thing coming from 
England ; there are plenty of cooking stoves of Yankee 
construction to be bought here with all the coppers, 
etc., for £10 or £12 and a great convenience they are, 
though they can never entirely supersede a fireplace 
in a kitchen. Some I have seen sent out from England 
are by no means so complete and being intended for 
coal are very difficult to heat with wood. 

I have been thus particular with my description of 
the house, not only because it will give you an idea 
what furniture to send out, but because, though if you 
do come it is unlikely I could wait for an answer to 
this before cormnencing operations, yet something 


might occur to delay you and leave me time to profit 
by your remarks and observations. 

My mother recommends me not to stint the house of 
room, but for the reason above stated with regard to 
log houses they cannot be made very large, and large 
rooms though pleasant in summer are difficult to heat 
in winter ; perhaps the rooms might be a little extended 
by making them sixteen instead of fourteen feet wide 
and then the room on the right might be curtailed in 
length to fourteen feet, the extra room being given to 
the entrance hall, which would then afford more room 
for a stove. 

With regard to your stock of wine, though whiskey 
is the constant beverage of the male sex in this coun- 
try, yet for ladies and invalids and occasional festivals 
a little -wine is necessary and of course your best way 
would be to exchange your stock for wine in bond. But 
I would make this suggestion, that port is a wine which 
if once touched with frost is spoiled for ever, and who 
shall ensure it against such risk in this country, in- 
deed I never tasted a good glass of port here yet. 
Sherry and madeira on the contrary are uninjured by 
frost even if frozen quite solid and are said rather to 
be improved by it, as they are by heat, so that it is a 
common thing to put a pipe of madeira in the garret, 
I hear, where it may be mellowed by the extremes of 
heat and cold. Another thing I would recommend, that 
it should come out in the wood mth an outside casing 
to resist depredation, and not in bottle. My wine is 
arrived but as it is still in Wallis's cellar at the Falls 
I know nothing of its safety, though a certain jingling 
in one of the cases makes me rather fear for the con- 




ft^. ^ 







Now as a suggestion in case of any more parcels or 
of your coming out. The Bibles and prayer books you 
sent out are all gone and numerous applications for 
more — the Bibles especially, but the testaments do not 
please. Some Bibles of a cheaper description and a 
few like the last for old eyes and a few more prayer 
books w^ould be acceptable. Secondly, you know that I 
was once very full of the study of the controversy 
respecting the seniority of Latin and Italian. I have 
collected a whole volume full of facts bearing upon that 
subject, which have led me to a very different conclu- 
sion from yours and the Italians, but I have never met 
\\ith though often sought for any book with a regular 
argument on the other side. My hours of classical 
study are now few and far between, but I have still a 
hankering after the old hobby, and chancing a month 
or two ago to see an advertisement of a book pur- 
porting to be what I wanted, I wrote down the title and 
if it is not too dear should like to get it, it is this : 
Raynouard — Itiflnence de la langue romane riistique 
sur les langues de V Europe latine, 8vo. 

As to the church you may rest easy that I mil not 
make myself the laughing stock of the others as you 
say by doing more than I am called upon to do. I 
never mentioned to any one what I said about the one 
hundred acres to you, but even with a view to in- 
creasing the value of my own property, I could not 
dispose of one hundred acres more advantageously. 
Jameson and Wallis should certainly do the most of 
any as they will be the principal pecuniary gainers, 
but Jameson is a mule that will neither be led or driven, 
and I never expect one farthing from him or his friends. 
Wallis is anxious enough about it, but he has already 
had so much thrown upon his shoulders by Jameson 


that he is loath to do anything more than he is obliged 
to do. Still I have him now distinctly tied down to my 
pre\dous proposals with the exception of the land and 
I have no doubt of getting that too from him when we 
see an actual prospect of a clergj'man. I said in my 
last letter that we should soon draw for our funds as 
the exchange was so high, and we should have done 
so had I not missed Wallis before he went to New York. 
I intended to take the occasion of drawing that money 
to state, that unless we could come to some settlement 
as to how the land was to be procured I would not 
allow the money to be called for. I have tried to come 
to a coalition of funds with Atthill, whose father being 
the Dean of Clogher might do much for us both in Lon- 
don and the north of Ireland, but he feels bound to 
Need, and nothing I feel convinced will be done by them. 
Need I tried upon the subject but got nothing but 
vague answers, though I offered that the clergyman 
should live at whichever end of the lake raised the 
most subscriptions and should do duty at both altern- 
ately. The stumbling block appears to be that Need 
wanted to beautify his village with a church* which I 
insisted should run away with none of the funds. I 
still hope that we may carry the thing through this 
summer; sooner or later there is no doubt of it, but 
the great thing is to do it before the Society have time 
to cool. The new arrangement of the proceeds of the 
Clergy Reserves which is in its progress through par- 
liament may do something for us; at any rate if it is 
successful it may get us a grant of land. 

Feb. 13th. As to the church we have £350 which at 
the present exchange is about £430 currency or more, 
and even at six per cent, you may say £27 per annum ; 

* See note p. 166. 


but if we buy bank stock or other security will prob- 
ably give more than £30. Besides we have no account 
yet of Wallis's Irish subscriptions and perhaps there 
may be some addition to his and Dennistoun's Scotch 
subscriptions ; so that we shall I doubt not make up the 
£35 per annum I told the Bishop Ave expected to guar- 
antee and which he only half reading or understanding 
my letter wrote to the Society that we had guaranteed. 
Judging from his letters he is a very slovenly lazy 
personage. I have consented that some small subscrip- 
tions we expect here should go to the building of the 
parsonage and church. 

To HIS Brother 

Blythe, March 10th, 1837 

Our church affairs look much more flourishing. I 
have drawai on B. Heywood & Co. for £200 sterling for 
which we shall get ten or eleven per cent., making £248. 
Wallis has a similar amount and letters from Jame- 
son's friends promise from £100 to £150 sterling more, 
making in all between £600 and £700 currency. For 
£200 of this we get eight per cent, from the Peter- 
borough church and probably shall get as much for the 
rest on the best security. AMiat we have lent out is 
only for one year, as we intend to invest in bank stock. 
I think we may fairly calculate upon £50 currency per 
annum, which with the Societ}^ 's grant will be sufficient. 
Besides which, Atthill, seeing no chance at the other 
end of the lake of anything being done, has promised 
to join us, and as his father is a digTiitary of the church 
we may get some handsome addition that way. A Rev. 
Mr. Wade, a Church missionary, has been making his 
rounds and fell ill at Atthill 's where he was detained 


some weeks. He has taken a fancy to the place and 
wishes to get the appointment; having some indepen- 
dent fortune he is in treaty for the purchase of a farm 
for his son on the lake, a fine lad now at the College at 
Toronto. He has also applied to purchase two town 
lots at the Falls. I know little of him but he appears 
a very gentlemanly man of about forty-five, and his 
having a wife and family is a great recommendation. 
Atthill, who knows something of his family and has 
seen more of him, speaks highly of him. AVhen I last 
saw him he was too unwell to speak of business, but 
when he recovers Wallis and I mean to speak to him 
on the subject and request the Bishop to appoint him. 
Should we not be able to get land from the Govern- 
ment, AYallis will give two to^\Tl lots at the Falls 
whereon we will build a house for him, or if he wants 
a better house than we intended we will do towards it 
as much as we intended. AYe have petitioned for a 
grant of land and shall probably get an answer in a 
fortnight. I stated in the petition our pledges to the 
Society and the subscribers and requested the govern- 
ment to enable us to fulfil them; whether I shall suc- 
ceed I doubt, for the Clergy Reserves question still 
remains unsettled, and the Scotch are making a great 
stir about former endowments. As Mr. Wade wishes 
to reside in the village and will have a farm of his own 
indcDendently it will be of less consequence, if he gets 
the appointment. 

Parliament is prorogued and we now know the re- 
sults of the session. They certainly have been very 
Tory altogether; there is no fear of any alteration in 
the constitution from them and the most important 
question of all, the Clergy Reserve question, they have 
left as they found it. This has been almost the only 

The Church Hill at Fenelox Falls 



'Jf Srv --• ^ 

The Church at Fenelon Falls 

From sketches bi/ Anne Langton 


question upon which any main principle has been dis- 
cussed; there has been discussion however enough in 
all conscience, but its only object has been to decide 
who should get the greatest share of the public money. 
The old Parliament did nothing in the shape of im- 
pro\dng the country, the present one I fear has been 
doing too much. To every public work which was pro- 
posed they have granted a charter and advanced money 
till towards the close of the session it began to be a 
question whether half the money could be raised ; and 
consequently to meet this difficulty clauses were intro- 
duced into all the money bills, at the eleventh hour, 
suspending operations until the governor in council 
should authorize the works to conmience. I cannot 
sa}^ I like this, it gives too much power to a person 
wholly irresponsible to the parties granting and pay- 
ing the money. We for instance have got £77,000 for 
the Trent, subject to the above condition; suppose only 
half the whole sums granted can be raised, what is to 
hinder Sir Francis from stopping our work altogether 
and la^'ing out all the sum granted on the Hamilton 
railway or some other work. AVe shall have however 
£16,000 spent on our lake and at Peterborough without 
any such clog, and we have been formed into a new 
District, called Colborne, of which Peterborough is 
the capital. These are the two measures which prin- 
cipally affect us. 

I accuse our Parliament of granting too much 
money ; but they fall into the shade alongside the new 
State of Michigan. Michigan was made a state this win- 
ter and they forth\sdth incurred a debt of $5,000,000 
to commence constructing three great railroads from 
one end of the State to the other. This system of 
going ahead seems to have answered in the States 


but I doubt whether there is sufficient spirit amongst 
us to carry the system through. 

To HIS Father 

Blythe, 7th May, 1837 

In reply to your letter of the 15th February I 
would have written sooner (though I have not much 
answer to make), had the climate permitted; but we 
seem getting worse every year here in that respect. In 
the spring of '34 the ice left us on the 12th April, and 
it has since put off its departure to the 26th April 
and 5th May and 6th May in the following years. This 
is getting very near midsummer, and at this rate it 
wiU soon reach it. I have nothing further to communi- 
cate than this, that in consequence of the lateness of 
the season you must delay your departure from Eng- 
land a little. 

I have made a contract for putting up the house, 
after a great deal of difficulty and uncertainty about 
getting anybody to undertake it, but no conmiencement 
has yet been made and I cannot promise that the house 
will be ready to receive you till the end of August. 
We cannot here command hands to any extent, and the 
difficulty of getting provisions this year is an extra 
obstacle. In the course of a few days I now^ expect 
to make a commencement, but you had better not be 
in too great a hurry for it would be very unpleasant 
if you were to arrive before there was a roof to shelter 

Did I tell you too that I had written to the Bishop to 
request him to appoint Mr. Wade to our church, but 
answering letters does not seem his Lordship's forte. 
He must have received this last letter for I paid the 


postage, thinking that had been the obstacle to former 
letters. I certainly did not tell you that the Govern- 
ment have refused to grant us any land. I do not 
think it is worth while to trouble Lord Glenelg about 
it. Our only ground of application would be this — 
that at the time of my visit to England glebes were 
always assigned to churches by Government, and that 
upon the strength of that we bound ourselves to the 
Society to clear and build upon the glebe. Upon my 
return when we wished to fulfil our engagements we 
could get no land to clear and build upon. I will have 
a cabinet council upon the subject with my colleagues 
and if we think a memorial desirable it will accompany 
this letter. 


Letters of the 
Tkansition Pekiod 


AFTER 1837 

[The series of early letters closed in 1837 with the 
arrival of his chief correspondent, his father, in Can- 
ada. Letters after this are addressed to his brother 
in England, who copied portions of the correspond- 
ence concerned with the transition stage of life in the 
back lakes. Such of these portions as seem to have 
permanent interest form the contents of this division 
of the letters.] 

How^ TO Add to Farming Some Other Means of 
Making Money 

Oct. 21, 1844 

The complaints are universal of the difficulty of 
making a living by farming, and I feel no doubt, after 
gi\dng it a fair trial, that in the present state of af- 
fairs it is not to be done. Still I cannot bring myself 
to tliink of giving up the farm, for the chances will 
certainly improve every year and in time even farming 
alone mil probably become more profitable. Were 
there any other means of making a little money to 
help the farm, the kind of life is one which I should 
prefer to any other, and though agriculture alone is 
a poor prospect, you may live better on a small sum on 
a farm than anywhere else. The question is what 
other means of money-making there are, and it is a 
question which I have asked myself and others five 
hundred times without getting any satisfactory an- 
swer. Ways of making money there doubtless are, but 



almost any I can think of involve the necessity of 
moving to a more civilized neighbourhood and it is 
exactly this which I want to avoid. A steamboat would 
have the advantage of improving the country more 
perhaps than anything, but the chances of profit are 
not very encouraging and the risk and capital to be 
expended are great. At present the thing is out of the 
question because the public works from want of funds 
are at a standstill and it will be probably two years 
before the whole line will be opened. A distillery on 
my o^vii creek in connection with the farm, and a store 
principally intended to buy grain for the distillery 
would I believe produce enough, but there are objec- 
tions even in the way of this. My mother is most de- 
cidedly and strongly opposed to it on the score of 
morality, as she thinks a facility of procuring whiskey 
would be an injury to the country. Besides this a bill 
has been introduced into our House of Assembly for 
imposing an excise of sixpence per gallon on whiskey 
(about thirty per cent, on its value), which will have 
the effect of throwing the business into large estab- 
lishments. This I conceive would be the case even in 
a cash country like England, but in a country like this, 
where it is always difficult to obtain cash for any ar- 
ticle whilst the tax would have to be paid in money, I 
think it would have the effect of entirely knocking 
small distilleries on the head ... [A distillery] would 
very well dovetail into a farm for, besides consuming 
the surplus grain, the feeding of pork and beef is one 
of the main profits of a distillery and the farm might 
be principally devoted to rearing stock. The store 
w^ould certainly pay and that permanently, but it re- 
quires there to be something else to bring customers 
to a store. Those who brought their grain to the 

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distillery would lay out the proceeds at the store, but 
if the former were given up they would take their 
grain and with it their custom elsewhere, and leave for 
the unsupported store only the custom of those who 
had no grain to sell. I thinlv I have before said to you 
that I know of no money-making business in Canada 
except the Law, storekeeping, tavern-keeping and per- 
haps I may add horse-dealing. The two latter we will 
altogether omit. Storekeeping is decidedly the most 
money-making and is carried on with very little capital, 
but it appears to me that those who make it pa}' are 
invariably those who have started with next to noth- 
ing and have gradually crept up in the world, increas- 
ing their business as their capital, custom and experi- 
ence increased; I hardly recollect an instance of any 
who have succeeded in planting a full gro^\Ti tree. 


April 1st [1849] 

The more I see and learn of the lumber trade the 
more I like its prospects. As the lumber is consumed 
nearer market it must be sought for further and fur- 
ther back, and we on the spot have many advantages. 
This year's spec. Avill be a feeler. I entertain no doubt 
at all of its paying handsomely, though it is in a very 
small way but enables us to gain experience cheap. If 
we see a prospect of its really turning out a business 
worth while following we shall be better able to extend 
it another year. There is a limit below which it will 
hardly be profitable to lumber, as it requires as many 
hands, ropes, anchors, etc., to take a small raft down 
as a large one almost, but on the other hand those who 
take more than one good raft do^vn lose the advantage 


of personal supervision and the extent of the stuff in 
one stream delays them where time is the great object. 
In medio tiitissimiis is the rule here, and the middle 
course appears always safe. The great source of 
failure among lumberers is their sinking their capital 
in securing a field to work on, often long before they 
use it, and otherwise extending their business so much 
beyond their means as [to] have to get advances from 
the Montreal and Quebec men, who thus get all the 
profit. This is the Scylla which Xicholls is always 
cautioning me against ; better far, if your means fail, 
sell your raft half way than get advances to take it on. 
One disadvantage we labour under here. AVe are so 
far from market that we must hurry, often at great 
additional expense, to get do^\Ti at all in one season, 
and then arrive late. Now the early rafts generally 
fetch so much more than the late ones, as they can be 
stripped the same season, that this is matter of great 
importance. Nicholls' advice is not to attempt it, but 
only to go at your ease as far as you can the first 
spring and then lay up, when you can be early in the 
market the next year. I think the advice is sound, as 
a season has to be lost somewhere in all probability, 
and it is better to lose it before all the expense of 
transit has been incurred than after. This year, how- 
ever, we shall push through at all events as it is of 
importance to us not only to get a return for our out- 
lay but also to gain a general knowledge of the whole 
route and of many details of the business which can 
only be learned experimentally. I think in a former 
letter I estimated we should have 200 spars and that 
the cost of going to Quebec might be divided into three 
equal shares of £1 per stick each ; the first when on the 
lake, the second at Peterborough and the third from 


Peterborough to Quebec ; the middle portion being the 
most risky and uncertain. Now this year we began too 
late and began at a wrong place first, so that the winter 
broke up whilst we had still twenty spars made in the 
wood and thirty more to make which but for that mis- 
take we should have on the lake now. However we 
have upwards of 180 out and at a cost of not 15/- each. 
As to the next stage we were offered a contract to take 
them down at £1, so that £3 we may safely say they 
^vill not exceed; and of that nearly £1, consisting of 
wages of raftsmen, lockage, towage, etc., are not pay- 
able, by the custom of the trade, till the raft reaches its 
destination. I feel little doubt that we shall make 100 
per cent, of it or nearly it. 

Peterborough, 23rd May, 1849 
Your assistance comes very seasonably, for the bur- 
den of the adventure is likely to fall upon me. My 
two companions in the business are as opposite as light 
and darkness. Boyd* is an Irishman whose blood got 
an extra boiling by being born in India, and all the 
Flemish blood of the Dunsfords has been concentrated 
in Jem.f You might as well yoke a wild horse with an 
exceedingly sedate ox as get those two to pull together. 

* See note p. 152. 

t James Wicks Dunsford, eldest son of the Rev. James Hartley 
Dunsford who brought his family to Canada in 1837. His second 
son Hartley, and Mr. George Bick, his coachman, afterwards 
well known in lumbering circles, arrived a year earlier to build 
a house which was appropriately called The Beehive, large enough 
to contain Mr. Dunsford's numerous family. The family in time 
moved to Peterborough where Mr. Dunsford became editor of 
The Peterborough Gazette, and published in it a readable histor- 
ical novel called The State Messengers. Mr. James Dunsford re- 
mained to farm The Beehive land, but w'hen Sturgeon Lake was 
abandoned by his neighbours he too gave up farming and took 
up the practice of law for which he had become qualified before 
leaving England. He was for sixteen years a member of the 
District and County Councils and from 1861 represented the 
County of Victoria in the old parliament of Canada. 


For this reason Jem has all along held back and now 
may be said to have no share in the business, but if 
another year he can have the entire superintendence 
of some branch of the business where his gravity will 
not be decomposed by the vivacity of the other, he 
still wants to join us; and as a staid ox is sometimes 
a very valuable animal, I think such a department may 
be found. As for Boyd he is admirably adapted in 
many respects for the work he is at. When a raft is 
once started almost every thing must yield to despatch, 
and a restless being who can keep himself and every- 
thing that comes in contact with him in a state of ex- 
citement for two or three months at a time is just the 
man to drive a river. He may want a curb at other 
times but there you may give him the reins. The 
worst is that his expected remittance has not yet ar- 
rived though I have in my pocket a letter which I 
think contains it. At all events things nmst be kept 
going, and I am not at all sorry to have more than my 
share of the speculation as long as I have the means to 
do it. There are not many pursuits in which ups and 
do^\'ns succeed each other more rapidly than in running 
a raft. The detention of our raft in the ice for a fort- 
night, when every other place was open, with expenses 
running on at the rate of £2 a day was very trying to 
the patience, and I was not at all sorry that Boyd was 
attending his wife at the time. Ai our first rapid at 
Bobcaygeon, which Boyd got through last year in a 
day, everything went wrong and we were a week. Just 
below we were detained three days by a head wind, and 
I understand Boyd was quite unapproachable. Then 
the good qualities began to operate, for in spite of 
head wind and horrible weather, vdih. the whole raft a 
sheet of ice, he kept all hands at Avork for two days and 


nights and when the rest gave in he stuck at it with 
only two others and got to Buckhorn rapids which had 
he not reached that night there would have been an- 
other week's delay. Now came a turn of good luck 
to compensate for our unpropitious commencement. 
Last year he was three weeks at Buckhorn and left six- 
teen spars behind — this year we got through in a day 
and a half and got all his sixteen spars into the bargain. 
The next place is Burleigh rapids which I have never 
seen in high water, but how a raft ever gets through 
there is a mystery to me. I do not know any particular 
time they left Buckhorn but there was a report here 
to-day that he had got through. After Burleigh comes 
the river above this place, nine miles of consecutive 
rapids. The process is to break up the raft and com- 
mit the spars to the stream. About an hour after that 
perhaps two or three sticks reach Peterborough, the 
rest are left sticking here and there on rocks, dams arid 
islands. The men follow them down clearing every- 
thing before them, which is called driving. Each 
stick they release of course is soon brought up by some 
other lower down, and as you advance the jams, as they 
are called, of course get worse and worse. The method 
of proceeding in each case requires great judgment. 
Sometimes you fix a windlass or have horses on shore, 
sometimes the men go on to the jam and loosen the 
sticks with handspikes, and sometimes you have to 
sacrifice a spar by chopping it. Occasionally you have 
to take off each stick singly as you would pick out 
spillikins, at other times a little judicious prying and 
shaking the holding stick will loosen twenty or thirty. 
You may imagine what ticklish work it is to be stand- 
ing upon a jam, or up to your middle in the water along 
side of one, when it begins to give way. I have seen a 


piece of timber perhaps sixty or seventy feet long 
forced almost clean out of water. It is a hard and 
dangerous life, but they are a lighthearted set of dare 
devils and the greatest rascals and thieves withal that 
ever a peaceable country was tormented with. Hen 
roosts have quite disappeared from the river side, and 
lambs and little pigs have to be kept under lock and 
key. This year the river has been very easy to run 
and I hope, in spite of our detention, the expense will 
not exceed my original estimate. 

June 18th, 1849 

Our lumber after all sorts of ups and dowms, some- 
times getting easily through bad places and being aw- 
fully detained at easy ones, has got to Peterborough at 
last, with the loss of only four sticks left behind and 
available for next year and one spoiled. As an illus- 
tration of the uncertain freaks of the Goddess that 
presides over lumber I may mention that we had two 
bad sticks, a crooked one and an unsound one, which we 
meant to leave behind, but like the bottle imp we never 
could get rid of them. The crooked one went over 
everything w^ithout touching and reached Peterborough 
where it lay exposed to public view, to our confusion 
and disgrace, one whole month before it was joined by 
its fellows. The unsound one formed the foundation 
of almost every jam in the river, and even after it was 
cut in two parts pertinaciously annoyed us all the way. 
My first estimate of the cost down to Peterborough 
w^as £2 or £2.5s per stick, but I do not think they have 
cost more than £1. 10s or £1. 15s at farthest. £1 
more will certainly take them down to Quebec. What 
they will fetch there it is impossible to find out. No- 
body will tell who knows, and very few know anything 


about that description of lumber. I knew a raft last 
year of seventy, of which the twenty best sold for £8; 
and we hear on good authority that the owner was 
offered £5. 10s for the rest this spring. Now we have 
very few as bad as his best, and I have had pointed out 
one or two of ours which they say are worth £20 or £25. 
This looks well but per contra I learned from the man- 
ager of one of the larger lumbering firms at Quebec 
that the annual demand is only for about 2,000 pieces 
and that their house is concerned in about 1,500; but 
he adds that there is always a demand for such sticks 
as some of ours which he saw, and I don't think he saw 
our best. We are working in a great measure in the 
dark, but Boyd will go on to Quebec. I think I shall 
try to run dowTi there also when the raft has arrived, 
to try to learn something of our trade. Cummings, 
the manager above mentioned, told me that one of their 
foremen had reduced the value of a mast for them at 
least £50 by cutting it a few feet too short. When 
trifles make such important differences one ought to 
spare no pains to get information. There is a legal 
length to a certain thickness you must know, and our 
men insisted that extra length beyond what was due to 
the girth was all thrown away. I however got them all 
cut as long as they would go and Boyd came after me 
and ordered them after they were drawn to be cut to 
the right length, but I stopped it after one was cut. 
Again after we had stuck half the day and nearly 
killed our oxen with one which I had laid out twenty- 
five feet over the length I began to change my mind 
and directed them to be cut shorter for the future, but 
going dowTi to Peterborough next day Boyd came and 
countermanded me, so in the end almost all are over 
length which Cunnnings says may make a difference in 


their value of several hundred pounds — in some the 
extra length may be only an incumbrance, in other it 
may be worth 10/- or 15/- a foot. 

As soon as the flies are not quite so bad, and some at 
least of my month's occupations are chalked off I mean 
to go out lumber hunting. I hope we shall have capital 
for a larger spec, next year. I think we now know of the 
materials for a raft as large as this year's near home, 
but the place I am going to look at will be a two years' 
business and we have our eye on a third place, if we are 
not forestalled, which would keep us busy for some time. 

I can see the rock, which NichoUs is always warning 
me of, on which most lumberers split, viz., the consum- 
ing of their capital in purchasing land and the right to 
lumber for future operations, to keep others out of the 
field. It must be kept well in mind, but it is very tempt- 
ing. I can see also how lumberers come to be such 
rascals generally. The men steal hens and their mas- 
ters steal trees. I suspect it is as dangerous a rock 
as the other. 

I believe it is a safe rule when you wish to put a case 
of conscience that the wish is answer enough. Query. 
Do you stick firmly to steal not at all or do you make 
any difference in the person stolen from? Would you 
allow of stealing from the Queen or make any differ- 
ence between land she had taken possession of by 
surveying and unsurveyed land? Would you steal 
from concession lines which the Queen has given to the 
public but the timber on which the Council, on what 
authority I know not, have given to the roads; and 
would your being Warden of that Council make any 
difference? Would you (in case you should in any 
case allow of stealing from individuals) make any dif- 
ference if an individual in question were your friend — 


if you had offered to buy his timber or his land and he 
had refused — if you did not know and could not find 
out who owned the land? Or would you abolish the 
word steal and only take, remain probably in ignorance 
of any ownership but be willing to pay for what you 
take when the ownership is proved to your satisfac- 
tion? I believe ninety-nine lumberers out of a hundred 
answer all these questions in their own favour and do 
many much more barefaced things. 

Later than 18th June 
The raft is now fairly at Peterborough which by its 
whiskey is as great an impediment to progress as the 
waters of any rapid. It is very trying to the patience, 
but it is not to be wondered at that the men after all 
their privations and hardships should get away as we 
call it here on the spree. This being a point in the 
journey where the kind of navigation changes, we pay 
off some of our hands. At the mouth of the Trent we 
pay off some more, and then the only expenses are 
towage when required, a« the government lockage and 
the pilotage are generally I believe always payable 
after the raft gets down. It is well it is so for Boyd 
is unable to contribute anything in the way of cash. 
Any expenses below the mouth of the Trent James 
Dunsford has taken upon himself. As long as our per- 
sonal superintendence did not take us away from home 
we each did what we could with [out] counting days, 
but from Buckhorn downward Boyd is to be allowed 
$14 a month, the rate of an ordinary good hand, and 
he is the best we have. He will go on to Quebec. 

The thermometer above ninety degrees — I was tra- 
velling all the time as much by night as by day and in 
every kind of conveyance. 

Letteks about 
avditinq the 
Public Accounts 

LETTERS OF 1855 AND 1856 
From John A. Macdonald * to John Langton 

Quebec, 6th February, 1855 

My dear Langtoist, 

I have had continually before my eyes our last con- 
versation, and under the impression that you had 
finally made up your mind to retire from Parliament, 
I spoke to Oliphantt and subsequently to Lord Buryt 
and Sir Edmund Head§ about your appointment to the 
office of Indian agent vice [undecipherable] dismissed. 
The salary is about £350. I may say I had secured the 
appointment for you when on my return Cayley** 
showed me your letter saying you had resolved to re- 
turn to Quebec. I was glad to hear this as I think you 
worthy of a better office than settling the quarrels of 
demoralized Redmen with still more demoralized 

*The Hon. (afterwards Sir) John Alexander Macdonald (1815- 
1891), member of the Legislative Assembly for Kingston, and 
attorney-general for Canada West. 

t Laurence Oliphant (1829-1888), secretary to Lord Elgin. In 
1854 he was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs, and made 
a journey to Lake Superior which he described in a volume en- 
titled Minnesota and the Far West (Edinburgh, 1855). He re- 
turned to England soon after Lord Elgin's retirement at the 
end of 1854. 

t William Coutts Keppel, Viscount Bury (1832-1891). He was 
superintendent of Indian affairs in Canada from 1854 to 1857. 

§Sir Edmund Walker Head, Bart. (1805-1868), who succeeded 
Lord Elgin as governor-general of Canada on December 19, 1854. 
He remained in office until October 24, 1861. 

**The Hon. William Cayley (1807-1890), member for Huron in 
the Legislative Assembly, and inspector-general from 1845 to 1848 
and from 1854 to 1858. 



Whites. Another position now offers itself for which 
your habit of mind eminently qualifies you, and if you 
do not object I have no doubt that it will be at your 
service whenever you please. 

It is very fortunate for Cayley that Mackenzie* has 
made such an opportune expose of the way affairs 
have been conducted in the different public depart- 
ments. He is now called upon, without an insidious 
prying into the affairs of the other departments, to in- 
stitute a searching enc[uiry into the management and 
accounts of all the Bureaux. You know his office is 
that of ''Inspector General of Accounts" and that the 
office originally was that of Auditor General. By de- 
grees the Customs and financial business of the Pro- 
vince came under his jurisdiction, though not under 
his patent of office, and these have now become his sole 
business. His duties of auditor having in fact become 
obsolete, I suggested to Cayley the resumption of his 
old duties, and the forming an audit department with 
a departmental head and suitable staff — the head to 
have the same position as Caryf the head of the fin- 
ancial branch or Bouchettet as head of the customs 
branch. The salary to be say £500. Cayley at once ap- 
proved of the suggestion and we simultaneously said 
you were the man to command the ship. It is pro- 
posed to come do^\^l to the House A\ith the plan to give 
the Audit Branch a permanent habitation and a name 
by virtue of an Act of Parliament, fixing by statute its 
duties, salaries, etc. This will give it more weight in 

* William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861), member of the Legis- 
lative Assembly for Haldimand from 1851 to 1858, and one of 
the principal spokesmen of the Clear Grit party. 

t Joseph Gary, deputy minister of finance, 1842-1863. 

{Robert Shore Milnes Bouchette (1805-1879), a former rebel of 
1837, who became commissioner of customs in 1851. 


the country and over the officers of government who 
are public accountants, than if established by mere 
order in Council. This would [not] permit the office 
being established till the end of the session, which 
would I fancy be rather agreeable to your views than 
otherwise. There is a point worthy of every consider- 
ation in this matter, about which we can talk when we 
meet. Meanwhile think over it. Shall the audit officer 
be eligible for parliament? If he is, and has in fact 
a seat, he becomes a political personage, and is subject 
to change on every change of government. This, as 
far as you are concerned, I think would be no objection. 
Then a cpestion arises whether a political officer's 
report would have the same weight as that of a 
non-political person. Cayley thinks not, I differ. 
Under the principles of responsibility some mem- 
ber of the Government must produce under his 
responsibility the reports of the Audit office. In 
fact the report must be that of the Inspector General 
and therefore must be political. It seems to me that 
it would be well to have the audit officer in Parliament 
ready to answer all questions and debate all matters 
relative to the public accounts, — just as in England 
the Secretary of the Treasury is always in Parliament 
acting as efficient aid to the Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer. So much for this. 

You see we have made extensive changes in LoAver 
Canada — and though not so complete as a bystander 
would wish, I can assure you that we went as far as was 
practicable. Morris* had resolved not to go to Tor- 
onto, and as some change ought to be made and must 

* Probably the Hon. William Morris (1786-1858), who had been 
receiver-general in the Draper administration from 1844 to 1846, 
and president of the council from 1846 to 1848. He retired from 
public life in 1853, and died in Montreal on June 29, 1858. 


have been made noiv, we thought it better to commence 
at once, rather than have the thing partially done now 
and finished next summer. Cauchon* brings strength 
and energy, Lemieuxf commands more votes among 
the Franco-Canadians than any other person in Lower 
Canada, and his appointment stops a mischievous 
re-agitation of the Seigniorial Bill question. He will 
not set the St. Lawrence on tire, but he is a shrewd 
common sense man, and understands human nature as 
his unlimited influence in the District of Quebec shows. 
As we have pledged ourselves to spend no money Avith- 
out the previous sanction of Parliament and after- 
wards under Order in Council there can be no more 
Pierst and he can do no harm. 

Cartier§ is active — too much so — and will do his 
work. The chief necessity for appointing him was that 
the large and important District of Montreal was al- 
together unrepresented in the Cabinet except by 
Drummond,** who has no property in Montreal and 
represents a township constituency. 

* The Hon. Joseph Edouard Cauchon (1816-1885), member of 
the Legislative Assembly for Montmorency since 1844. In Jan- 
uary, 1855, he became commissioner of crown lands, in succession 
to the Hon. A. N. Morin. He resigned the office in 1857. 

t The Hon. Francois Xavier Lemieux (1811-1864), member of 
the Legislative Assembly for Levis from 1854 to 1861, chief com- 
missioner of public works from January, 1855 to 1857. 

X While waiting for a steamer, on the Long pier at Riviere du 
Loup, one day some fifteen years after the date of this letter, Sir 
John Macdonald, who was waiting too, told us that the pier had 
been the occasion of turning a government out of power. — W. A. L. 

§ The Hon. (afterwards Sir) George Etienne Cartier (1814- 
1873), member of the Legislative Assembly for the county of 
Vercheres, 1848-1861. On January 25, 1856, he became provincial 
secretary in the MacNab-Tache ministry, and on May 24, 1856, 
attorney-general for Canada East in the Tache-Macdonald min- 

** The Hon. Lewis Thomas Drummond (1813-1882), member for 
Shefford in the Legislative Assembly, and attorney-general for 
Canada East, 1851-1856. He resigned his office when the Tache- 
Macdonald ministry was formed in May, 1856, 

William Langton 


Were you not glad to see old Badgley* housed for 
life? AVe had a good deal of difficulty but were firm. 
Let me hear from you soon. You will be down at the 
beginning of the session I hope. 

Yours very faithfully, 

John A. Macdonald 
John Langton, Esq. 

From John Langton to his Brother, Wm. Langton 

Toronto, Dec. 30th, 1855 
My dear WhxLIam, 

Having been now more than a month installed in my 
office I must give you some account of it and of the 
prospects of work before me and of the probability of 
my getting on pretty comfortably. First my relations 
with Cayley have been satisfactory enough. He has 
fulfilled his pledge of leaving me entirely to myself to 
do what I like, though I have some little complaint to 
make about my freedom of choice in my assistants. I 
found three clerks there who had been more or less 
attached to the Audit branch of his office, none of them 
worth much but two are practicable enough. One of 
them however I blame Cayley- for saddling me with. 
He is a black sheep who has been transferred from one 
department to another and found quite impracticable 
In all — utterly useless and worse than useless. Cayley 
knew this as well as I do and it was a mere excuse that 
they sent him to me with some books which he used to 

* The Hon. William Badgley (1801-1887), member for Missisquoi 
county in the Legislative Assembly. He had been attorney-gen- 
eral for Canada East in the Draper administration, 1847-48, but 
he %\as not included in the MacNab-Morin government of 1854. 
In January, 1855, he was appointed a judge of the Superior Court 
of Lower Canada. 


keep and wliich are now in my branch, because in fact, 
tlioiigli lie ought to have kept them, they never could 
trust him to do it. I have seriously remonstrated for 
he is in receipt of a higher salary than anybody in my 
office and is utterly useless to me. I have told Cayley 
that I have no objection to his drawing his salary and 
sitting there, but I will not be responsible for finding 
him work as I cannot trust to the accuracy of anything 
he does. I think I shall get rid of him before long. I 
have introduced three more clerks and mean to get two 
more. My chief clerk I have in my eye but have not yet 
selected and do not mean to do [so] till I get the work 
into something like order. 

Then as to my colleagues in the Board of Audit — 
one I find a very easy-going man, the chief Conunis- 
sioner of Customs, who keeps his o^\^l branch well 
audited and is not disposed to trouble himself with, any 
other. He will sit occasionally at the board, but will 
clearly give me neither assistance nor trouble. The 
other who has just been appointed deputy Inspector 
General has risen from book-keeper and is nothing but 
a book-keeper still. He seems however an honest fel- 
low and really desirous that everything should be 
straight, and from long experience in the office has been 
very useful in putting me up to its ways. He evident- 
ly entertains a most deferential respect for me and ^vi\\ 
give me no trouble except with a few crotchets which he 
has. One is an old jealousy between the book-keepers 
of the Inspector and Receiver General's * departments 
who never can get their books to agree though repre- 

*The Hon. (afterwards Sir) Etienne Pascal Tache (1795-1865), 
had been receiver-general since November, 1849. On May 23, 1856, 
he was appointed a life member of the Legislative Council, and 
on April 19 he was elected speaker of that body, but he continued 
to act also as receiver-general. 


senting the same transactions, and each of course 
blames the other. Some years ago two sets of books 
exactly similar were opened for the two departments 
and it was intended they should be a check upon each 
other and that they ought exactly to correspond. I 
think this was a mistake, for the means of information 
of the two are different, and even if two book-keepers 
took the same day book as their basis I doubt whether 
they would produce from it similar books. The Re- 
ceiver General receives and pays, but the accounts 
which show how the money comes to be received and 
why paid are kept in the Inspector General's office. A 
warrant comes doAvn for counter-signature to the Re- 
ceiver General and this is his only means of knowing 
to which account it is to be placed ; and if the warrant 
does not properly express that on the face of it, he is 
not to blame if he enters it to a different account to the 
Inspector General. Or a cross entry may be made 
properly enough by the Inspector General of the reason 
of which the Receiver General knows nothing. So with 
receipts. But it is not often that there is £600,000 
discrepancy as in Glen Mills & Co.* account this year 
in the two offices, in which by the bye the Receiver Gen- 
eral was right and the Inspector General wrong, aris- 
ing out of an issue of debentures to the Grand Trunk 
R. R. or rather to Glen Mills & Co. to be held for the 
Pro\^nce and paid to Grand Trunk R. R. on certain 
conditions. My friend Dickenson, late book-keeper 
now deputy Inspector General, considers his books as 
the true standard and thinks the Receiver General 
should compare with them at stated intervals and make 
them agree, which M'ould render them useless as inde- 

* Glyn, Mills and Company who, with Baring Brothers and 
Company, had been in 1852 the London financial agents for the 
Province of Canada and bankers for the Grand Trunk Railway. 


pendent records. Tlie Receiver General book-keeper 
wants everything to be reported to liim in detail, so as 
to be a duplicate Inspector General book-keeper. I 
think both are wrong. The warrants and bank certifi- 
cates, etc., should contain on the face of them sufficient 
information as to the account to which they are ap- 
plicable — Avhich now they do not, or only a pencil en- 
dorsation made by a clerk unconnected with the book- 
keeper — and the Receiver General should not attempt 
too great a refinement in the subdivision of accounts of 
which he can know nothing. Though the items might 
differ the large heads of income and expenditure and 
the totals would then agree, and if there was a dis- 
agreement it would be not without its use in pointing 
out accounts which were not sufficiently defined and 
imderstood. Another of his weak points is that he 
wants our main attention to be turned to points which 
have attracted notice, so as to be ready to answer and 
defend the office when Parliament meets. I want to 
find out anything that is wrong though never heard of 
before, and set right what is knoMii. He wants to shew 
that the Inspector General's department is not to 
blame. He has also some pet ideas, not of a very en- 
larged kind, which he bothers me ^^^.th sometimes, but 
altogether he is a decent fellow and is no impediment 

I told you I had been at work for more than a month, 
but of the accounts of 1855 which ought to be audited 
and printed by the end of February I have as yet only 
succeeded in getting hold of minute fractions, so that 
I despair of ever getting tlirough with them when they 
do come. Hitherto I have been principally engaged 
with arrears which may be postponed, and in cor- 
respondence to hurry on the rendering of sufficient 


accounts, and getting explanations as to the system of 
keeping the books in different departments. I have 
succeeded however, not without some opposition, in 
introducing a system for the future of quarterly in- 
stead of annual returns which will make work more 
smooth hereafter. This cjuestion of arrears is a tick- 
lish one. I do not like to commit myself to going back 
to any fixed time with all accounts, but with some it will 
be very necessary; and in some of the departments I 
find a great disinclination to let me go back, which as 
you may imagine only makes me the more anxious to 
do so. But in the audit itself there are several dif- 
ficulties which present themselves. As to payments — 
was the money paid! Of course a voucher should be 
produced to show it was — but was the work done or 
service rendered which the money is payable for! It 
is not often we get such an ite.m as appeared in last 
year's Public Accounts, in a page immediately follow- 
ing a whole host of £1. 2. 3's and £5. 3. 6's, viz., 
*' Benjamin Chaff ey and others, for services on the St. 
Lawrence canals," fifty odd thousand pounds. A de- 
tail was asked for and sixty-three items given, of which 
Benjamin Chaffey got one of about £6,000, and, 
amongst others, two convents in Montreal got between 
them £35,000 for land bought of them. But supposing 
we have the whole sixty-three vouchers, were there not 
some explanations wanted about this purchase of land 
— how much, at what price, what wanted for, by whose 
orders! The information on such points is generally 
very vague and incomplete, and it is difficult to draw a 
line where to stop in requiring details. It is clear that 
I cannot measure whether Benjamin Chaffey did the 
number of yards of embankment he is paid for, or 
whether the powder bought for blasting was really 


delivered or, if delivered, used. I must stop at the cer- 
tificate of some responsible servant of the public 
somewhere, (I rarely find any however except for large 
sums \\^ere no details are given), and if I am so to 
stop, where am I to do so? As far [as] concerns any 
real check I question whether I gain anything more by 
keeping a clerk engaged all day in checking a pile of 
small tradesmen's bills consisting of dozens of items 
each of so many pounds of such a thing at so much a 
pound, all amounting to £100 or so, than by passing 
an item of £10,000 paid to a contractor for work done, 
when I have neither his contract nor any means of 
knowing whether the work was really done. One fel- 
low has a very original notion of a voucher — he sends 
me his o^\ti cheque on the bank payable to himself or 
bearer as a voucher for certain pajmients which I have 
no doubt he did make with the money he drew. The 
idea is too innocent to allow of the supposition of the 
man being a rogue. As far as I have gone as yet into 
the Board of "Works accounts I find the most scrupu- 
lous detail in small things and the most suspicious 
vagueness in the larger items. I have not yet come to 
asking further explanations, and when I do so I am 
much puzzled to know how far to require details. 

Then supposing a voucher produced that the money 
was paid and a certificate that the service was ren- 
dered, another question arises — ^^vas the expenditure 
authorized? The Act is silent upon this point. It is 
contended by some that the auditor should certify be- 
fore payment that the payment is authorized, and this 
seems to be to a certain extent the practice in England 
by an officer of the Treasury, but that clearly is no 
duty of mine here. After payment however am I to say 
Avhether it is authorized? Cayley says j'es if not 


authorized by Act or Order in Council (I know many 
such), but this will not be sufficient for others who will 
want to know whether Act or Order in Council. I 
think I shall distinguish, that is report, all payments 
on Order in Council alone, but this will be difficult un- 
less I can get them to keep their appropriation book 
better than it has been done and get them to enter on 
the face of the warrant on account of what appropri- 
ation, or if not of what Order in Council, and furnish 
me with a list of all warrants— and even this will not 
do unless the Board of Works when they send for a 
warrant enter in their certificate, which they do 
not always do by any means, on account of what 

Then as to receipts, something in the shape of 
vouchers is often required and is more difficult to man- 
age. Our Superintendent of Education * gets £3,000 
a year to supply school libraries, and he sends me as 
vouchers of his outlay booksellers' receipts and tells 
me he has sold to schools some £2,000. Now how can I 
tell whether he has not received more, for as his ac- 
counts are not published we have not even that check 
upon him. I remember when I was Warden saving the 
county many hundred pounds by compelling the Trea- 
surer to give receipts for land tax out of a checpie re- 
ceipt book. He argued, amongst other difficulties which 
he made, that that was no protection as he might enter 
a different sum in the cheque to what he did in the 
body. True enough, but that could hereafter be better 
brought home to him than if he had put the money in 
his pocket and made no record of it in his books. At 
any rate the land tax became more productive, and we 

* The Rev. Egerton Ryerson (1803-1882), superintendent of 
education in Canada West. 


have since had no more people's land sold by mistake 
for arrears of taxes which they had paid. I can think 
of no other way applicable to some of these cases 
except something similar, except in the case of land 
agents which I will mention presently. Perhaps the 
cases of this kind arise so seldom, most receipts being 
direct [from] the public chest except land agents. Cus- 
toms collectors and collectors of tolls on the canals. 

Lastl}^ the cash balances should have vouchers, 
which they never have — that is, to say where is [the] 
money? If in the man's pocket we must take his word 
for it and should know it at any rate, but if where it 
ought to be, in a bank, we should be told how deposited 
and get a bank certificate from him or a return from 
the bank. Last week I partially audited our superin- 
tendent of education's accounts. The whole sum pass- 
ing through his hands annually is about £60,000, the 
great bulk of which, about £45,000, is received by him in 
January and July, and almost immediately paid out; 
nevertheless on January 1st, 1854, he had according to 
me, though much disguised in his accounts, upwards of 
£13,000 in hand, and January 1st, 1855, upwards of 
£9,000. "Where is the money? It never seems to have 
occurred to anybody to ask. It may be spent or it may 
be at interest on his behalf. I had just come to this 
conclusion (I mean that he had these balances) when 
an application from him was sent do\\Ti to me to report 
upon in which he says that, in consequence of my hav- 
ing required him to send in his accounts quarterly, it 
would be much more convenient if instead of getting 
all his appropriations annually, about July or August, 
he were to have them paid him quarterly in advance. 
In my report which I made last night I shew that under 


the nine heads into which he divides his accounts and 
asks for his money quarterly in advance, in all of them 
he has had in hand constantly for a year and a half a 
much larger balance than the advance he asks for. 
In 1853 he got his £3,000 for 1854 on account of school 
libraries in advance, but January 1, 1855, fully £2,000 
of it was still on hand. In the same year a grant was 
made of £500 a year towards a museum and he got his 
money for 1854 in advance, but January 1st, 1855, out 
of two annual payments he had only succeeded in ex- 
pending £75. I think that man's cash balances want 
looking after. He is the Pope of Methodism in this 
country, but he mistook his profession. Nature in- 
tended him for a Jesuit. 

This leads me to another question. If there is any- 
thing wrong in an account, of course I report ; if there 
is anything bad in the system of keeping accounts I 
think it is clear I should report also. But when the 
system of managing the public business is bad, is that 
any concern of mine ? I doubt. The question of large 
balances is in the debatable ground betw^een the last 
two named questions, and that I have reported upon 
in the education case and in the opposite case of the 
Lunatic Asylum. This institution expends about 
£10,000 of public money, receiving about £500 from 
paying patients and other services, and renders ac- 
counts quarterly, carefully analysing the expenditure, 
quite a model in that respect for our public account- 
ants. They go on tick for everything except the small 
sum they get from paying patients, their quarterly 
accounts being a list of their debts, which they get a 
warrant to discharge; but the last quarter as they 
showed a balance of cash in hand £89, Dickenson, being 


zealous as a new hand, deducted this from their liabili- 
ties, and they got a warrant only for the net balance. 
This large and admirably managed institution has 
therefore been carried on now for three months with- 
out a single sixpence of cash except from some paying 
patient who may have been discharged during the 
middle of the ciuarter, for they only make their pay- 
ments quarterly. This Avill be amended for the future. 
It is much more questionable whether I should not be 
considered as going beyond my province if I were to 
report upon other ciuestions of general finance, and 
yet I long to do so. We are eaten up with special funds 
which are daily increasing. Egerton Ryerson in his 
Education accounts must have nine special funds, and 
always keeps a heavy balance in each; as if I kept a 
baker's, butcher's, tailor's, etc., fund, with always 
enough in it to meet any possible demand during the 
year. He only follows the example of his betters. We 
are a mass of special funds, and the consequence is 
that like Ryerson Ave haA^e alAA^ays a large balance on 
hand. With an annual rcA^enue of about £1,500,000, the 
smallest of our monthly cash balances last year \A^as 
£600,000 and the average about £850,000 ; and this does 
not include CA^erything, for some of the special funds 
are not kept in the Receiver General's name, and, until 
Cayley altered it this year, some departments, as the 
CroAA'n Lands, kept a separate purse and only paid OA'er 
to the ReceiA^er General when they had a large sum, 
such as £30,000 or £40,000 in the instance of the Crown 
Lands. I must Avatch an opportunity of reporting it 
as a matter of account. 

I am only just beginning to see my Avay into tlie Avay 
the different departments keep their books. There has 
been a great improA^ement of late years, in a great 


measure owing to Hincks,* but tliere is still room for 
improvement. The Inspector General's Department 
is the most perfect but even there I find a curious want. 
Before the union it seems no accounts were kept with 
collectors of Revenue but their monthly returns were 
filed away in pigeon holes where they still repose. It 
was a great improvement when Hincks opened a sub- 
accountants ledger for these gentlemen who receive 
money for the public, but it does appear to me curious 
that to this day they have never thought of opening 
a ledger for the gentlemen who expend the public 
money. With such people as my friend Ryerson the 
pigeon hole system is still carried out. Whatever the 
Inspector General may do I mean to open a ledger for 
these sub-accountants with the new year. 

But the two great departments I have to deal with 
are the Crown Lands and the Public Works— the one, 
after the customs, our principal source of revenue and 
the other its great consumer. As to the first, till three 
years ago they did not keep books on any system at 
all, but now they keep them by double entry and well, 
as far as the remains of the old system and half a dozen 
irresponsible Lower Canadian special funds will allow, 
and a villainous system they have of distinct branches 
of the department. If you enquire about any unintel- 
ligible entry the book-keeper can only tell you it was so 
returned to me but Mr. Spragge or Mr. Dawson or Mr. 
Langevin has charge of that branch. These different 
branches audit or do not audit themselves and only 
report totals. The whole department audits or does 
not audit itself and used as I told you to keep a separ- y^ 

* Sir Francis Hincks (1807-1885), who had been inspector-gen- 
eral of public accounts from 1842 to 1848 and from 1848 to 1851, 
and prime minister from 1851 to 1854. In 1855 he was appomted 
governor of Barbadoes and the Windward Islands. 


ate purse. Even now they do not pay in the gross 
revenue and get warrants for their expenses, but they 
hand over only the balance after paying their expenses 
in many cases. The consequence is that the Chief Com- 
mission may order surveys, add a new Department of 
Mines or what not to give a friend a berth or give a 
pension to a clerk's widow, not only without authority 
of Parliament but without consulting his brother min- 
isters. It is checked by the new regulation but not 
stopped. It may give you an idea how carelessly 
things were managed to give you an instance. In 
former days when land was a drug it was freely given 
away. United Empire Loyalists and their children 
born and to be born were entitled to grants of land, 
Militia men after the war, etc., etc. xlbout fifteen years 
ago this Avas stopped, and land scrip, for £5 each, was 
issued to all claimants at so much an acre on their 
claim, as a legal tender in payment of land at its cur- 
rent rate. The whole country was flooded with it, it 
was at a great discount and for many j^ears it almost 
annihilated the land revenue. Now it appears upon 
examining the gross results that, notwithstanding 
much outstanding scrip, more has already been re- 
deemed than ever was issued. "When scrip came in in 
payment it never was checked wdth the scrip book, 
much of it was never defaced in any way and none in 
any effectual way, and none of it destroyed. I am 
hunting it up from its recesses and vaults of banks 
where it has been deposited and forgotten for years, 
and I think we have it all. I have commenced checking 
it, which will be a tedious business and require my 
constant supervision. I find that at one time the prac- 
tice was for the commissioner to sign a whole scrip 
book at once in blank, to the value of £10,000, and leave 


the clerks to fill them up afterwards. All I can say is 
that if I find all right they must be honester people 
in the Cro^^^l Lands than I ever gave them credit for. 
Another horrible mismanagement is the Crown Land 
agents scattered through the Province, through whom 
all lands are sold and whose receipts are binding on the 
department. They have to make monthly returns and 
payments, but many of them are always in arrear. Now 
an agent sells a quantity of land, receives the money 
and reports what he has done, remitting the money; or 
not reporting or remitting as the case may be. But 
suppose he does report and remit but not all his sales. 
The department knows nothing about it and has no 
means of knowing. Clergy reserves are sold on ten 
years credit. A man may have paid his instalments 
regTilarly though the agent may not have returned 
them, and it will first be found out when ten years have 
elapsed and he presents his ten receipts and claims his 
deed. Now I know some of these men to be great 
rogues and who shall say to what extent this has been 
carried. I am inclined to think the whole system of 
local agents should be done aw^ay Avith, but that is none 
of my business. I have the power to send a man to 
inspect their books if they have any and I think I shall 
do it, but I don't know that much would come of it. 
The great cure for the future, (but that would leave 
their land jobbing and favoritism untouched), would 
be to let them finger no cash. "WTierever there is a 
land agency there is a bank agency not far off. The 
purchaser should pay his money into the bank, taking 
duplicate bank certificates which he would give the 
agent, one for the Receiver General and one for the 
CroAvn Lands Department. 


The Board of Works however is the Augean stable 
which I most dread. Their accounts have never been 
audited since 1851 and then only partially. They say 
one whole case containing vouchers was lost on the re- 
moval of the seat of government. They have never 
balanced their books since 1852. They tried last year 
but after a month's work failed. Of the nature of 
their vouchers I have before spoken, and of their re- 
luctance to let me go into arrears. Before I make up 
my mind about the latter I must see my way through 
this year. But enough of my troubles for one letter. 

Yours, etc., 

John Langton 

To HIS Brother, William Langton 

Toronto, Feb. 24th, 1856 
My dear William, 

Since I wrote to you last I naturally know much 
more of my position and the sort of work before me 
than I did and your answer to my former letter which 
I have just received induces me to go on mth the same 
subject. I find Cayley a pleasant man to work with, 
upon the principle that a silent man is a most agreeable 
companion to a great talker. He lets me do whatever 
I like, and if he does not very much assist me at any 
rate throws no impediments in my way. I have en- 
gaged my head man Mr. Cruse, of whom I have an ex- 
cellent character, but although his engagement com- 
menced on the 17th of January I have had no personal 
opportunity of judging him, I was very deficient in 
office room at the time and I lent him to Dickenson and 
have never been able to get him back. In some respects 
this is a nuisance as I had expected him to relieve me of 


much of the head work, in which I get no assistance 
from the others and which is ahnost more than I can 
manage with sitting up to all hours in the morning. 
Whilst in the office I can get nothing done. During 
office hours I am interrupted every moment by some- 
body and I generalh' find that I do more real work in 
the hour and a half I stay after the clerks are gone 
than in all the rest of the day, but I cannot keep my 
share of the work up to the rest without taking work 
home with me. However there is some advantage in 
Cruse being where he is. He is hastening the closing 
of the public accounts, which I have to audit when 
made up, and he is in the meantime getting acquainted 
with the system in the Inspector General's office, which 
will be of use to us hereafter. The rest are all tempor- 
ary. [One] at £300 a year is almost useless to me, but 
I have got him at a job at present unconnected with 
financial business (for I cannot trust him with figures), 
more of a statistical character, which with other liter- 
ary portions of the business he does pretty well, though 
a fearful nuisance from his constant interruptions to 
me in telling me what he has done or consulting what 
he is to do. I hope to get rid of him soon. If I do, I 
mean to have Mr. Cambie as second clerk at £250 to 
keep up the general business of the office not directly 
connected with the auditing, of which we have a good 
deal; as receiving reports from various institutions, 
countersigning and keeping a record of the notes 
issued by banks under the Free Banking Act and of 
the securities deposited by them with the Receiver 
General, and various other miscellaneous business 
which is handed over to us. Third, Mr. Greene 
whom I found here, very steady and constant and very 
accurate in figures but with very few ideas beyond 


figures, fourth and fifth Messrs. Barber and Patterson, 
two young lads I brought in, both very steady and 
willing and Barber with some head. I am training him 
to abstract and analyse and draw up general state- 
ments from confused details, and he promises very w^ell 
though it is no present aid to me as I have to take as 
much or more trouble in teaching him and checking him 
than would enable me to do the work myself. However 
it will I hope be a relief hereafter. [The sixth] I mean 
to get rid of, and I think the five will be my permanent 
staff as I can always get temporary assistance, but I 
may have to add a sixth. My system is when any ac- 
counts come in to look cursorily over them myself first 
to see whether there is any peculiar feature which re- 
quires any special instructions beyond the general ones 
the clerks already have, and then I hand them over to 
one of them to audit. Each clerk has a book in which 
he enters all the remarks he finds to make, or rather 
two books one of which he is working with and one 
which I am using. When he has finished I take his book 
and his accounts and give him the other book and fresh 
work. I then go over his remarks myself, and ahvays 
verify his observations before acting upon them. If 
he is one in whose accuracy I have confidence I gener- 
ally confine myself to what he has never worked upon 
assuming the rest to be correct ; but I often have to look 
over other parts, especially if large sums are con- 
cerned or there is a fault of system in the particular 
account, and I often find they have passed over what 
should have been remarked upon. On the blank side of 
their book I make my own observations, and when 
I have finished one man's account I write to him with 
my strictures and ask for his explanations. When I 
have everything as far rectified as I can, I report if 


necessary to the Inspector General and I give the ac- 
count to Mr. Barber, as corrected, to arrange and an- 
alyse if it requires it and to enter into a statement book. 
Many of the accounts give rise to statements and tables 
of another character, more in the nature of statistics, 
which are entered in another book, keeping the former 
one merely for statements of account. They are en- 
tered miscellaneously just as we make them up and 
are very various in their character, some of them ex- 
pansions of single items in others, and relating to 
various periods of time. This is all I have attempted 
for the past and I only intend to connnence my ledger 
from the beginning of this year. It is an improvement 
upon the pigeon-hole system of former days where 
there were stowed away, people hardly knew where, 
piles of accounts, some accounts current without 
vouchers, some vouchers without accounts, some the 
driest of abstracts and others a mass of confused 
entries of which you could only say that the totals shew 
a certain amount received and another expended. The 
accounts are at any rate all together and can be re- 
ferred to by an index, and they are so analysed as to 
show at a glance their leading features. I don't know 
that I could have made much more out of past transac- 
tions but for the future I mean to have a regular ledger 
and I think I may probably have to keep also a state- 
ment book subsidiary to it and explanatory of the 
separate items of which some of the ledger accounts 
will be composed, otherwise the ledger itself would be- 
come too bulk>^ and confused a business. Thus the 
Board of Works would be an account in the ledger. 
But they have at present upwards of thirty different 
appropriations for different works, besides more than 
that number of kinds of expenditure not under any 


distinct appropriation but which they claim the right 
of spending upon under their general Act. All these 
would form properly separate accounts in their 
ledger but not in mine I think, and yet one must be 
able to see how these stand. The Board of Works 
would I think be my only account, its separate works 
being only items in it, whilst the details of these items 
properly analysed would appear in the general state- 
ment book or perhaps in this case in a separate book 
for that department alone. I have had to open another 
book elucidating this same Board of Works. There are 
existing contracts on many of the works running over 
several years before they are finally closed; in some 
cases the contractors getting advances, and at other 
times having a drawback kept from them, so that I 
cannot keep track of these contracts ^^"ithout opening 
an account for the several contractors. The same re- 
mark applies to their superintendents who have fre- 
quently balances in hand and at other times seem to be 
out of pocket. I have therefore opened a subsidiary 
book for the Board of Works contractors and agents. 
What I may have to do of a similar character with 
other departments I hardly know yet. I must obvious- 
ly keep a record of open accounts in some way. In 
some cases I have merely entered in the statement 
book the list of open balances connected with a certain 
account, as "Statement of the balances of the appropri- 
ations to the several granmiar schools in Upper Can- 
ada for the year 1855 which remained unpaid on 1st 
Jan., 1856." But where the open accounts are of a 
more complicated character each may require to be 
stated separately and that would encumber the state- 
ment book and a separate book may have to be opened 
as for the Board of Works contractors, the abstract 


of which properly arranged would make a proper ac- 
count for the statement book. All this makes a great 
deal of book keeping, but when we get rid of arrears 
and all square up to the current time I think we may 
keep it so. Hitherto as I told you before whilst they 
have kept a ledger for the people collecting money they 
have had none for those spending it, except in the case 
of departments of government; and then they appear 
to me to have got into some confusion by mixing up in 
one account two essentially different things — viz., the 
money placed at their disposal and how much has been 
paid to them of it, and the money which they have 
received and how they have expended it. I do not see 
my way quite clearly, but I cannot devise any way of 
keeping a record of these two things in one account 
without confusion. I think there should be two distinct 
ledgers, or two accounts for each accountant in one led- 
ger, showing the state of the appropriation and the 
state of the expenditure ; the former way would be best 
for the future I think, but the latter is the one I have 
adopted in my present statement book. This is more 
essentially necessary where there are other receipts 
besides the appropriations; and where these receipts 
form a leading feature of the account I question whe- 
ther there should not be a separate revenue account. 
Thus the Board of Works would have, 1st their ap- 
propriation account, 2nd their revenue and mainten- 
ance account, if they are allowed to deduct from the 
revenue the expense of keeping the work up, but much 
better a revenue account balanced by their payments 
to the Receiver General, 3rdly maintenance and re- 
pairs of public works either to be paid from time to 
time by order in council out of the revenue or at once 
from the consolidated fund into which the revenue 


would go. The revenue should not be kept as a special 
fund applicable to the maintenance, according to our 
besetting sin of special funds, but the revenue should 
go into the common purse and the repairs etc., out of it ; 
whilst the revenue and the maintenance accounts would 
always afford the materials of a statement, which would 
not be a ledger account, of how much the revenue from 
each work exceeded or fell short of the expense of keep- 
ing it up and how these two things compared with each 
other on the aggregate of all the works. And here 
would come a difficulty in deciding what was a repair 
and what a new work. If funds are short the Board is 
rather apt to shroud the non-paying character of a 
work by getting repairs done under the guise of a new 
work. If the}" are plentiful they will spend largely 
on improvements, without the disagreeable or- 
deal of the House of Assembly, by very exten- 
sive repairs out of revenue. 4th Expenditure under 
special appropriations by Parliament and, perhaps 
distinct from this, 5th Expenditure of a casual and 
unprovided kind under Order in Council (much too 
large an account), and 6th Expenditure under the gen- 
eral powers of their Act not by Order in Council (a 
very much too large and ill defined account). AJl 
these things it would be very desirable to see stated 
separately, though I am not at all clear that they should 
be separate accounts in the ledger. What I do see my 
way the clearest in is that there should be a separate 
ledger for appropriations, but this is not without its 
difficulties. AVhen a special sum is appropriated either 
in the annual estimates or in some special Act or in a 
general Act appropriating an annual sum, there would 
be no difficulty in opening an account in the ledger ^vith 
each appropriation, against which the warrants would 


be charged as they issue ; and I have pressed Cayley to 
introduce the rule recommended in England by the 
Committee on Public Accounts, but I cannot trace 
whether acted upon, that any balance of an appropri- 
ation unexpended after a certain time should die a na- 
tural death. Our books are encumbered with such 
unexpended small balances Avhich are forgotten till 
it is desirable to hunt them up to cover some expen- 
diture which will not exactly bear the light of day. 
"When I was in Parliament I wanted to get a man paid 
some small sum clearly owing to him for many years, 
but Hincks would not put it in the estimates. Eichards* 
however the then Attorney General put me up to the 
approved method, and together we found an old ap- 
propriation before the union of the provinces on w^hich 
we contrived to make my friend chargeable. I am 
afraid worse cases than mine have gone through the 
same process. This however is a digression. Then 
any Order in Council would have to come into the same 
ledger, not as a separate account for each order which 
would be too cumbersome, especially as it is generally 
immediately balanced by a warrant for the same am- 
ount, but for each service to which the orders in coun- 
cil were applicable. This I think would be better than 
entering the Orders in Council in the same account 
as the Parliamentary appropriations for the same ser- 
vice. So far I see my way clearly, the only thing 
wanted being that I should be furnished with a memo- 
randum of each Order in Council authorizing the ex- 
penditure of money as it is passed. The great diffi- 

* The Hon. (afterwards Sir) William Buell Richards (1815- 
1889), member for Leeds in the Legislative Assembly, and attorney- 
general in the Hincks-Morin ministry from 1851 to 1853, when 
he was appointed to a puisne judgeship in the Court of Common 
Pleas for Upper Canada. 


culty is with the general Acts. There must be general 
Acts authorizing money to be expended for certain 
purposes, as the administration of justice, the exact 
amount of which cannot be known beforehand. In such 
cases it has been usual to issue Avarrants without any 
order in council. AVhether such payments should not 
appear in the ledger at all, which would be unsatisfac- 
tory as it ought to shew all expenditure; or whether 
Orders in Council should not be required which would 
be difficult to manage; or whether I should simply 
balance the account for each service when I know what 
it comes to by an entry of ''authorized by Act so and 
so", I have not yet determined. To require orders in 
council for each separate payment would be excessively 
inconvenient, to require an order in council for a de- 
finite amount on account to be renewed as wanted, so 
as to keep before the Council from time to time the 
state of the expenditure, would be better ; but the pre- 
sent system at any rate appears very imperfect, for 
without Parliament or even the Council knowing any- 
thing about it, it gives the Inspector General and in 
practice the Deputy Inspector General power to spend 
money of which no one can tell till long after it is 
spent whether it was really chargeable under the gen- 
eral Act. The Board of Works for instance, under its 
general Act, has charge of all public buildings, etc., and 
incurs all sorts of miscellaneous expenditure and gets 
warrants to meet it, without the matter ever coming up 
before Council. It no doubt renders an account after- 
wards, of which there are boxes full which have never 
been audited and passed, though the late Deputy In- 
spector General says they were all examined, which I 
very much doubt, and no doubt also the substance of 
these accounts is published annually in the printed pub- 


lie accounts in great lump items the title of which gives 
very little clue to their component parts. This is my 
difficulty with the appropriation ledger. It is true 
that an appropriation book has for some years past 
been kept which is in fact a sort of ledger of the kind, 
though taking no note of orders in council and general 
Acts or indeed permanent Acts authorizing an annual 
fixed expenditure. It contains only the yearly appro- 
priations on one side, and the warrants as they issue 
are entered on the other, and no balances of previous 
years' appropriations are carried into the new book. 
But if the present appropriation book were improved 
in this respect, still it might lead to very fallacious 
results unless in some way brought en rapport with the 
expenditure ledger. The two things are so far distinct 
that they should be kept in separate books or in separ- 
ate accounts in the same book, but they are so far con- 
nected that they must be taken together to give a clear 
idea of how any account stands. An instance of this 
occurred only the other day in the case of the Super- 
intendent of Education East.* He and his brother of 
the West are perfect contrasts. My Jesuitical friend 
Ryerson has got the genius of order and system. His 
accounts and vouchers are a model for all our public 
departments. As he has been accustomed to render 
them they convey the smallest amount of detailed infor- 
mation, but when asked for, the minutest details were 
forthcoming in a moment. Even when I asked for a 
voucher for his balance in hand I got a certificate the 
next morning from the cashier that £17,000 was lying 

* The Hon. Pierre Joseph Olivier Chauveau (1820-1890), who 
became superintendent of education in Canada East after the 
session of 1854-55, succeeding Dr. Jean Baptiste Meilleur (1796- 


to his credit in the Bank of Upper Canada in his own 
name and about £7,000 more in his name of office. He 
draws his appropriations with the most beautiful regu- 
larity, the misfortune is that he does not spend them. 
The man in the East on the contrary is an honest but 
very thick-headed individual who renders his accounts 
in such detail that you can hardly understand them, 
and never touched a penny of public money in his life. 
He draws out cheques from time to time, as he ascer- 
tains what sums he has to pay, and every month or 
two when they amount to a sufficient sum he issues 
them and gets a warrant for the exact amount. Some 
time ago he overdrew his account and, as he had at the 
time some £30,000 unaccounted for, a clerk was sent 
dowTi to overhaul his books, when it appeared that with 
the exception of a quantity of loose papers and the 
talons of the cheques there was very little in the shape 
of books to overhaul. The clerk got an inkling of how 
affairs really stood, but it was never clearly made out 
till I disentangled it the other day. Besides the per- 
manent educational grant to Upper and Lower Canada 
we have been in the habit of granting annual [ly] an 
additional sum, varying from £10,000 to £25,000, and 
the honest man seeing this and forgetting the exist- 
ence of Upper Canada thought the whole of it belonged 
to him and squared his expenses accordingly, belie\dng 
himself to be keeping within a very wide margin indeed 
of his income and annually reporting an unexpended 
balance which we annually voted away in aid [of] 
building schoolhouses and supporting colleges, etc. ; 
whereas he has been annually expending £4,000 a year 
beyond his income, after our deductions. This was not 
felt at first because the apportionment to schools for 
the last half of 1855 is never paid until 1856, according 


to their system, and some portions often not for two 
years, he having to wait till the parishes have made an 
equivalent appropriation which, the Lower Canadians 
not being a tax-lo\dng people, they are very slow to do. 
It thus happened that it was not till his overexpendi- 
ture on his appropriations exceeded a half year's in- 
come that he ever actually overdrew his account and 
so attracted the attention of government to the matter. 
It is true that in the pigeon holes lay his accounts of 
the sums he had paid to various parishes in driblets, 
payments on account of 1853, 54, and 55 all mixed up 
together and w^ith the funniest of vouchers, and all I 
have not the slightest doubt absolutely correct, but as 
long as he did not absolutely overdraw his account 
nobodj^ perceived that he was paying his 1854 expenses 
with his 1855 income at the same moment that we were 
voting away an imaginary unexpended balance of 1854. 
This is a long story and I have been specially amused 
with it because the other day, on the very evening 
when I had made a report to Cayley upon the subject, 
I took my ladies to the House where they heard a very 
hot debate as to what was the proper way of spending 
the unexpended balance of the Lower Canada School 
Fund. The moral of the story is this that it is not 
enough to know whether a man has dra\^^l what he is 
entitled to on the one hand, or whether he has spent 
what he has drawTi on the other, but whether he has 
spent it for the purpose for which he was entitled to 
draw it. 

You will perceive that I have only spoken in detail 
of two or three accounts. In fact I have only spoken 
of difficulties which I know, and I do not know how 
many more are in store for me. I have seen no Post 


Office accounts, though the Postmaster General * tells 
me that about March he thinks I shall have the first 
half of last year and that it will keep me busy for a 
couple of months. I have seen no CrowTi Land ac- 
counts, respecting the nature of which I am absolutely 
in the dark; and I have seen no Inspector General's 
accounts and Dickenson tells me I shall hardly do so 
till they are in the printer's hands. 

I am ashamed of the lengih of this letter and must 
try to close it in this half sheet. I am conscious I am 
likely to be a very obnoxious individual and I have no 
doubt Egerton Ryerson will hate me cordially. I must 
bear it as best I may. I will try not to become imprac- 
ticable as you say, and I don't think I am very, but it 
is difficult sometimes to draw the line. 

ITours etc., 

John Langton 

To HIS Brother, Wm. Laxgtox 

Toronto, April 17, 1856 
My dear AYilliam, 

I must give you another yarn about the public ac- 
counts, being a subject about which for want of any 
more agreeable one I think of all day and dream of 
most of the night. I expected to find a mess but the 
reality exceeded my expectations, especially as I have 
only yet got into the threshold of the dirtiest stall in 
the Augean stable — the Board of AYorks. I know that 
in that department accounts have been balanced by 
charges to contingencies to a great extent. I have no 
official knowledge of it yet and [it] may be some time 

* The Hon. Robert Spence (1811-1868), postmaster-general from 
1854 to 1858. 


before I have, because I can 't get the accounts and the 
utmost costiveness prevails with regard to information. 
The sudden death of their bookkeeper last night will no 
doubt be made the excuse for more delay. Probably 
the impossibility of getting the books balanced had 
something to do with it, for he died the death of Lord 
Mountcoffeehouse the Irish peer. With the Crown 
Lands I am also at present at a standstill, except that 
I discovered the other day forgeries of land scrip to 
the extent of £6,000. I know who did it pretty well but 
I cannot find an}" clue to his confederates, and if I 
could bring it home to him, which is perhaps doubtful, 
he cleared out to the States two years ago and is be- 
yond my reach. I am at present on the scent of game 
in another direction, and although there is a sort of 
sameness in the occupation there is also variety and 
some excitement. I must give you two specimens, one 
of which you have heard of before. 

We are a very wealthy people. We raise a large 
amount of revenue from a very moderate customs 
tariff and we hardly know how to spend it. I think we 
shall be relieved in this respect for the future because 
our railway speculations have provided a very efficient 
issue which will prevent us dying of plethora. It is 
astonishing how coolly we all bore the news that inter- 
est on debt to the amount of £300,000 a year which we 
had only guaranteed and never expected to pay is, by 
the repudiation of the Grand Trunk and other com- 
panies, to be met for the future by us. This however 
by the bye. Amongst the other consequences of our 
excess of revenue we always kept some half million idle 
in the banks. AVith an income of not much more than a 
million and a half in 1854 we never had less than 
£600,000 and sometimes upwards of £800,000 so lying. 


In 1855 the diminished imports and increased expenses 
had somewhat relieved this determination of blood to 
the banks, but still we generally had from 3 to 4 or 
£500,000 unemploA^ed and the balances were duly re- 
ported to the Governor General every evening. Some 
of this was at three per cent, interest, subject to two 
or three months' notice, in various banks, but the bulk 
was at call in the Bank of Upper Canada which is our 
financial agent, and great is the outcry against this 
favoured institution in consequence. I had a call from 
the cashier the other day who complained that whilst 
they were supposed to have more than £200,000 in their 
hands they were really put to great inconvenience in 
their general business by being in advance to govern- 
ment about £50,000 and he wanted me to speak to the 
Inspector General about it, who he did not believe knew 
hoAv things really stood. I must say I was taken aback, 
but I immediately commenced investigations and I 
found that a practice has long existed than which noth- 
ing can be worse and which renders these balances in 
hand sent in to the Governor General every evening 
so much waste paper. At the end of every month the 
resident engineer gives each contractor what is called 
a monthly estimate showing what work he has done, 
how much is to be kept as drawback and what he maj^ 
get payment for. He takes this to the bank who give 
him the money. They send it to the Board of Works 
w^ho after examining and checking, etc., issue a certifi- 
cate to the bank. This certificate they send to the 
Council office who at their leisure prepare a w^arrant 
which is sent to the Inspector General, and it is not till 
he signs the warrant that he knows anything about it. 
In the ordinary course it is at least a month after the 
money has been paid before it comes into the public 


accounts; and if a particular expenditure is of a 
nature which it is not desired to make known, especially 
whilst Parliament is in session or the public accounts 
are being made up for the year, there is nothing more 
easy than to keep it back a little in some of its numer- 
ous stages. After the warrant does come in it may be 
found all wrong, paid once before, unauthorized, etc., 
of all of which there are instances now in the office. 
Delay occurs in consequence and the disagreeable item 
does not appear in the published accounts, but the 
money is nevertheless really spent and irrecoverable. 
The bank advances to the Board of Works at this pre- 
sent moment are something like £100,000. 

Then there is the Post Office. It is not a paying con- 
cern with us but a constant source of expense, as we 
have innumerable post offices scattered over the coun- 
try the receipts from which do not pay a fiftieth part 
of the cost of conveying the mail. I don't object to that 
if we knew what it cost us, but we do not. Last session 
£20,000 was voted to cover the deficiencies of 1854 and 
55, at which time we had the Postmaster General's 
report that the deficiency for 1854 was £7,000 odd. I 
question very much if three members in the House 
knew (I did not) that the Postmaster General's fin- 
ancial year ends on the 31st of March and that when 
he told us in May, 1855 that he was deficient £7,000 for 
1854 he meant up to March, 1854. What he was de- 
ficient up to March, 1855, two months after the year 
was over, he knew no more than we did; but he sup- 
posed the other £13,000 would cover it. There is the 
greatest trouble in getting returns from postmasters, 
whose emoluments are so small that you have no hold 
upon them on that score ; and I have up to the present 
time only got the accounts to June of last year, and not 


three weeks ago the end of the year ending March 31, 
1855. Up to that time I now know that the deficiency 
M'as £29,000, to meet which there was only £13,000 ; and 
since then a whole year has elapsed, with the expenses 
of carrying the mail daily increasing both from the 
general rise of everything and the increased number of 
non-paying offices. The Postmaster General has not 
the smallest idea what the deficiency will be in the year 
just past, but the bank which has been finding the ways 
and means all the time has a very good idea, it is 
£57,000. These are goodly sums to be expended, not 
only ^^'ithout sanction of Parliament but without the 
consent or even knowledge of the finance minister. 

The CrowTi Lands also have a good pull at purse, 
and there is another case of which I had some cogniz- 
ance which illustrates the impropriety of this system. 
Last year we had a new Militia Bill in consequence of 
your taking away all our soldiers, but Parliament \^ith 
the jealousy which always characterizes popular as- 
semblies grumbled at the bill and especially the expense 
and put in a clause saying that the payment must de- 
pend upon an annual vote of Parliament, and the Min- 
istry very glad to escape from an unpopular measure 
accepted the clause and said that as they did not intend 
to organize they would not ask for a vote that year. 
Nevertheless they did partially organize, and the pay 
lists came in to me for audit; or rather the Deputy 
Inspector General asked me before payment what was 
to be done. I pointed out that it was not only an 
unprovided expense, but that the Act positively pro- 
hibited any thing being paid till a vote had been taken. 
So they privately instructed the bank to make an ad- 


You can now understand how our apparent balances 
dwindle away. I have declared open war against the 
system and Cayley gives me a lukewarm support, but 
he is too timid a hand for any efficient reform. The 
Board of Works declare reform impossible, the Post- 
master General declares it impossible, and the only 
warm support I get is from the bank and from the Re- 
ceiver General who being the cash keeper has a com- 
mendable objection to allow any extraneous fingers to 
get into his purse. Nevertheless I will conquer. There 
is a Committee of the House on Public Accounts the 
chairman * of which is a fine upright fellow, a wealthy 
merchant and a great friend of mine. I have told him 
all about it and, although a leader of opposition, he 
has agreed that I am to do my best to get the Ministry 
to make the reform, and if I can't do that then we will 
bring it out before the Committee. It is a very dif- 
ficult position for me. I don't like anything that can be 
construed into treachery to the men in office but I can't 
conceal anything I know to be so grievously wrong. 
John Young the aforesaid chairman sent for me and 
told me that he believed both of us mainly desired, 
politics apart, to put the financial business on a proper 
footing. That he felt in entire ignorance of the nature 
of the business in the financial offices and did not know 
where to begin. He said that he would put me such 
general questions as would enable me to tell where was 
a field for research, and he did. I might to be sure have 
answered them truly and yet have left him in the dark, 
but although it looked like volunteering information 

* John Young (1811-1878), a prominent merchant of Montreal, 
who had been elected member of the Legislative Assembly for 
Montreal City in November, 1851. He had been commissioner of 
public works in the Hincks-Morin government from October, 1851 
to September, 1852. 


I thought it the better course to be very open. In a 
private conversation I told him afterwards a great 
deal more, upon which he agreed to leave me to work 
by mj^self first and if that failed he will back me. It is 
their own fault making it a dependent office. I should 
have had the power of independent reporting and I 
always told them so, and they knew that I would not 
assist to conceal anything. Nevertheless I was not 
easy in my mind so I told John Macdonald what I had 
done the other day and he acknowledged that I was 
right. It will end in giving me the power of indepen- 
dent reporting, but I should not be surprised if there 
was a row first. I may also mention that the bank be- 
ing desirous of making a poor mouth, as the saying is, 
overstated the case and, if closel}^ enquired into, I do 
not think they are really in advance to Government at 
all. The advances to contractors in strictness are and 
certainly ought to be pure banking transactions. I 
have little doubt that the bank get a discount on their 
advance when it would clearly not be government they 
were paying. It is a business which any bank would 
be glad to get for the security is good, and the pre- 
sumptive evidence that the contractor is entitled to 
draw much clearer than in most cases where a bank 
discounts a draft ; besides it is exactly the sort of busi- 
ness they like, for their notes are paid away to labour- 
ers and small tradesmen and are much longer in com- 
ing back upon them than if they assisted a merchant 
to make a large payment. Moreover £11,000 of the 
post office advance appears to be money not really paid 
but credits given to money order post offices, so that 
that sum is really never out of their hands though 
fluctuating about amongst their different branches and 
agencies. Then all public accountants keep their 


money in the bank, or ought to do, and the £23,000 
which Ryerson holds, though paid by the bank to Gov- 
ernment, is still really in their hands. This does not 
however affect the main question I have to deal with. 
The second subject is the old story of Ryerson. I 
took occasion to ask at the bank whether they allowed 
him interest, and they do at three per cent, and I got a 
statement of the amounts so paid him since 1851 ; when 
therefore the Dr. returned from England the day be- 
fore yesterday he found a pleasant note from me call- 
ing upon him to account for nearly £1,600 had and re- 
ceived for the public uses of the province, not a very 
pleasant reception for a man of such intense respect- 
ability. I have no answer as yet but I have no doubt, 
from his great efficiency as school superintendent and 
the great power of the Methodist connection, I shall be 
accused of a conspiracy to upset our school system, 
etc., etc. The great father of lies himself is not up to 
more cunning dodges than my reverend friend, and the 
way in which he has kept his account was evidently in- 
tended to meet the possibility of such a charge. It has 
been under several different names, sometimes two or 
three at once and balances transferred from one to the 
other, but all of them under some official designation 
as Superintendent of Education, Legislative School 
Grant, Board of Education, etc. This at once removes 
any doubts as to the interest being public money, and 
he will not I think attempt to deny it, but triumphantly 
point to the title of the account to shew that he never 
intended it to be otherwise. How he will explain why 
he never rendered anj^ account of these sums being in 
his hands is another thing, but from long acquaintance 
with the man I have no doubt he has an answer ready. 
What makes it susceptible of being construed into part 


of an attack upon the school system is a further com- 
plication which I will try to explain. When they were 
making out the annual accounts, the education fund 
being in great confusion I made out a statement and 
got them to close the books accordingly, showing a 
balance overdrawn by Lower Canada of £5,825 and a 
balance still available for Upper Canada of £300 odd, 
relying altogether upon the balances January 1st, 1855, 
being correct. When I got the proof sheets of the Pub- 
lic Accounts, which I had never seen until then, I found 
a payment for increased salaries, which I had never 
heard of before, charged to Consolidated Revenue 
whereas by the Order in Council it was to be charged 
to Education Fund, which brought out a balance 
against Upper Canada of £179. 13. 4, which I got ac- 
cordingly altered; and as I was then drawing up a 
statement for the House of Assembly, I based it upon 
this second rectification of the school account. I may 
say by the way that I purposely drew up the statement 
in such a way as to shew that Lower Canada had been 
constantly overdrawing and Upper Canada underex- 
pending, and it does not say much for our financiers 
that nobody perceived it. The only remark upon 
Ryerson's balances was an attack upon Government 
from Mackenzie for making Ryerson draw these sums 
to deposit in the pet bank, as if it was any advantage 
to them to pay him interest instead of paying Govern- 
ment none. As for Lower Canada, both Ministers and 
the Opposition are firmly and unalterably persuaded 
that there are large unexpended balances, and in spite 
of my statement and numerous further details which I 
have given individual members they have just passed a 
new school Act, which proceeds upon the assumption 
of about £6,000 a year unclaimed balances wdiilst the 


superintendent has really been overexpending about 
£2,000 a year. There used to be large unclaimed bal- 
ances, but schools have been more popular in Lower 
Canada of late and the real object of the Bill is to 
starve the common schools in order to build up the 
higher class of educational institutions which are un- 
der the control of the priests. Cartier, the Minister 
who introduced the bill, can plead no ignorance and 
did not deny his knowledge of the truth to me and 
scarcely denied his object, so the question having be- 
come one of policy and not of accounts is removed from 
my jurisdiction. He said in so many words that it 
sounded better to call them unclaimed balances, but 
whether unclaimed or not he had provided that the 
money should come out of the common school fund. 
Honest that at any rate. However to return to Eger- 
ton Ryerson. If the House took no notice of my state- 
ment Mr. Hodgins the Deputy Superintendent of Edu- 
cation did . . . Mr. Hodgins wrote me a very indig- 
nant letter for saying that they were £179 overdrawn 
and shomng that the error arose from my giving them 
credit for the half only of an additional grant of 
£25,000 in 1855 instead of their share according to 
population, the principle followed in dividing the 
original £50,000 a year, and which had been followed 
with respect to additional grants also since 1853 when 
they first conmienced. Now I had before me when I 
made the statement Ryersojn's application for the 
larger share and the report thereon of the Inspector 
General and Deputy Inspector General both saying 
that former additional grants had been equally divided, 
and the Order in Council affirming the same fact 
(orders in council should not affirm facts), and de- 
ciding that the same course must continue to be fol- 


lowed. This was enough for me, but Mr, Hodgins ' letter 
induced me to go back and I found the astounding fact 
that, although £10,000 had been so granted in 1853 and 
paid, there was not in any book in the Inspector 
General's Department or in the published public 
accounts the faintest record of how much of it had been 
paid to Dr. Ryerson and how much to Dr. Meilleur.* 
It is true that I found another £5,000 which had noth- 
ing to do ^^ith the matter but which had apparently 
from an erroneous reference in the margin been taken 
for Dr. Meilleur 's half of the £10,000, but the history 
of the £10,000 itself was a blank. I had therefore to 
look to the accounts of the superintendents themselves 
and I found that Ryerson had accounted for his divi- 
sion of the larger share and Dr. Meilleur for his of the 
smaller, so that Hodgins was right in point of fact and 
the Order in Council wrong. I satisfied myself that the 
Hincks government had intended the £10,000 to be a 
regular annual addition to the grant, to be divided 
like the rest, and upon the strength of this Ryerson had 
prepared and Hincks had carried an amended school 
Act providing for the manner in which it was to be 
expended (it has not by the bye been so expended in 
any one particular). In my researches, however, I 
came upon another astounding fact, that Ryerson ac- 
cording to his custom of drawing in advance had again 
received his share early in 1854, apparently under his 
Act although that did not grant the money but only 
showed how what might be granted should be expend- 
ed ; and when the new Government made the additional 
grant for 1854 £15,000 instead of £10,000, he also 
claimed and got his share of the £15,000 under the 
estimates. As for the Lower Canada man, his ac- 

* See note p. 239. 


counts had got into such hopeless confusion that a clerk 
was sent down who commencing at 1848 reconstructed 
them and gave him credit for his half of the three ad- 
ditional grants of 1853, 4, and 5. I had therefore to 
correct my statement a third time showing that, on the 
supposition of an equal division, whilst Lower Canada 
had overdrawn! £5,825, Upper Canada had overdrawn 
£5,631, and the two sums were so near each other that 
I recommended taking a sponge to the Avhole transac- 
tion and starting afresh. This was I think not an un- 
reasonable proposition but it brought down upon me 
Mr. Hodgins again, with greater indignation than be- 
fore, with a statement beginning in 1846 showing that 
he had only overdrawn £2,400 odd. It is true that a 
couple of days after he asked to withdraw the state- 
ment and put in a new one acknowledging to £4,690, but 
it is curious that an acute man should not have per- 
ceived that all this was not instead of but in addition to 
the sum I had named. I in the meantime went back to 
1846 also and, lest I might have to make a fifth cor- 
rection, I satisfied myself that in 1844 and 45 he had 
just got his appropriation and indeed lid short of it; 
so I think I have got a firm foothold at last, and I 
make him £12,900 overdrawn. This balance may be 
thus analysed in round numbers, £4,700 which he ac- 
knowledges to be really overdrawn, £6,200 which he 
acknowledges to have received but claims a right to, 
and £2,000 which the Public Accounts show were paid 
him but he does not charge himself with. I therefore 
have called upon Kyerson to account for tliis also and 
shall send a clerk to examine the books. Irrespective 
of the Dr., however, what are we to do with the ac- 
counts as between Upper and Lower Canada? We 
may take a sponge to the whole thing and begin again, 


which would be the best thing, but I doubt whether 
Lower Canada will stand our having received £7,000 
more than they. Or we may make both pay up, or 
make Upper Canada pay the difference or Lower Can- 
ada receive the difference, or make Upper Canada 
pay to Lower Canada half the difference. Any of the 
last methods would be very unpopular in Upper Can- 
ada, for we are very proud and justly proud of our 
schools upon which besides the government grant we 
spend nearly £300,000 a year from municipal taxation, 
and parting with any of Ryerson's balances, especially 
to Lower Canada, would go very much against the 
grain. We shall not grumble at Ryerson grasping 
more than his due for so good a purpose and as no 
doubt this year the savings will be largely poured out 
the schools will be more popular than ever. I have no 
doubt that Ryerson will mix up the two things and lose 
sight of his own irregularity in defending his school 
fund from the plunder which I instigate, and it is not 
consolatory to think that the public, when it comes 
before them, not having the fear of arithmetic before 
their eyes will care nothing for my figures, but only 
think of protecting the Upper Canada school moneys 
from diminution or object to any additional grant to 
Lower Canada to go into the hands of the priests, a 
feeling in which I most cordially participate. I should 
not be at all surprised if Ryerson comes out of the con- 
test with flying colours, and honoured as a great public 
benefactor. He is undoubtedly a very clever fellow apiJ 
a very deep one. For years past he has worked._tJie 
schools till he has centered all power in himself, each 
new bill lopping off some of the municipal or other ex- 
traneous control, and he has latterly made a great 


push to get the colleges and university under his 
thumb. He has a journal of education as his organ, 
carried on at the cost of the province and distributed 
to every school section, which is a powerful engine — 
and last not least he is the Pope of Methodism^ Cayley 
is terribly afraid of him and leaves me to fight him 
alone, Ridout of the bank is in mortal terror lest his 
revelations should get him into trouble, even our Chan- 
_cellor * who is one of the most opinionative and over- 
bearing men I know, who rules the Court of Chancery 
with a rod of iron and has converted the two Vice 
Chancellors into lay figures, who bullies the Senate of 
the University, is visibly cowed in the presence of 
^Ryerson. He is surrounded as by an atmosphere with 
such a concentrated essence of respectability, and 
meets all opposition with such a calm unruffled air of 
conscious superiority that I will not deny that I am 
half afraid of him myself. I have had several spats 
with the Chancellor and he does not bully me as he does 
the rest, and if he does a little sometimes I submit to 
it because he really is a first rate man and a strong 
hand at the helm is much wanted. I had also a spat 
with Ryerson once to whom I gave a very much de- 
served lecture which he bore with the air of a martyr 
prepared to endure even more than that in a just 
cause, and when I had done and silence prevailed 
in the Senate I felt astonished at myself that I 
should have assailed such self sustained virtue. I 
would rather meet the Chancellor any day and as 
for the Board of Works it will be a flea bite in 

*The Hon. William Hume Blake (1809-1870), chancellor of 
Upper Canada (1850-62) and chancellor of the University of Tor- 
onto (1853-56). 


So much for public accounts, however you will be 
glad to hear that I have got a first rate man in Mr. 
Cruse. Neat, and accurate; rather precise and de- 
liberate, as becomes a bookkeeper, but not slow, and 
above all with a head to devise something new as well 
as to carry out what is established. He is already 
beginning to save me a great deal of trouble. I think 
after all it was my best course not to have a chief 
clerk at all until I had so far seen my way as to know 
what I intended to do. I have opened a ledger into 
which all public expenditure of every kind will enter 
under the heading of the different services for which it 
is paid including also, to complete the system of double 
entry, the authorities for paying. There is nothing 
similar to this kept in any office. The ledger in the 
Inspector General's Department is kept under the 
heading of the authorities, the services being lumped 
np and no special funds come into it, being kept in a 
separate book. I do not know how they manage it. I 
cannot see my way clearly on that system. On my own 
I do. The great difficulty I anticipated I have got re- 
moved, viz: getting the requisite data. They have 
conunenced now sending me the orders in Council 
regularly, and I have arranged to have the duplicate 
warrants filed in my office, so that I have a complete 
record both of authorities and payments. 

The Ministry are in a most contemptible state of con- 
fusion. The Ministry themselves and the party sup- 
porting them want Sir Allan* to resign and he who is 
ill in bed won't. They dare not, for that would leave 
him in, and there is no knowing what advice he might 

* Sir Allan Napier MacNab (1798-1862), president of the council 
and prime minister since 1854. He resigned his office in May, 1856. 


give the Governor General. John Ross * resigned 
yesterday on Grand Trunk questions and a Hincksite 
(a very good fellow) succeeds him. I think there is no 
doubt Sir Allan must go, and I think Cayley also. John 
A. Macdonald is now the recognized leader, but he is 
anything but strong in reality. There is a talk of 
bringing Robert Baldwin f into Parliament again, in 
which case a strong ministry might be formed ^^ithout 
Macdonald, but at present apparently he must be the 
nucleus. There is a sad deficiency of available men. 
The parties are so split up that no man can tell what 
will come next. The present ministry is at any rate 
only a temporary evil. 

Yours etc., 

John Langton 

To HIS Brothek, Wm. Langtoint 

Toronto, May 24th, 1856 
My dear Whxiam, 

We have had a very stirring time of it in the political 
world of late and my ladies have got so much interested 
in it that they generally go to the house every night 
to hear the debates. The whole of this session has 
been a state of chronic crisis for the ministry, though 
there are of course fits of the disease which look as if 

*The Hon. John Ross (1818-1871), a follower of the Hon. 
Robert Baldwin, appointed a legislative councillor in December, 
1848. He had been speaker of the Legislative Council in the 
Conservative ministries of 1854 and 1855, but he resigned the 
office on April 18, 1856. He was succeeded by Colonel Tache, 
who continued for a time to hold the office of receiver-general. 
In April, 1856, the Hon. Joseph Curran Morrison (1816-1885) 
was brought into the Cabinet without a portfolio. In May, 1856, 
he became receiver-general. 

fThe Hon. Robert Baldwin (1804-1858), prime minister of 
Canada from 1842 to 1844 and from 1848 to 1851. 


they were really going to lead to some change. There 
have been no less than five want of confidence votes 
during the session, in which the ministry has come off 
victorious, but only to be exposed to the same thing 
the next week. The last has been the most serious as 
the agony has lasted nearly a fortnight. The debate 
lasted Wednesday^ Thursday and Friday and, as Sat- 
urday is always a holiday, every one expected that it 
Avould end that night, but for some reason or other the 
ministry themselves were evidently anxious to post- 
pone the decision and the debate was adjourned again 
to Monday. On Monday night however the eastern 
steamer did not come in from bad weather, and as sev- 
eral opposition members were on board who had been 
home for the Sunday it was the opposition this time 
which wanted delay. I sat up till four a.m. when I left 
them in hot debate and found them at it still when I 
returned soon after nine in the morning. At noon the 
missing men arrived and one would have thought that 
they had enough of it ; however they kept it up till past 
midnight again, when the vote was taken with a ma- 
jority of twenty-three for ministers. But the Upper 
Canada vote was six against them, and of the absent 
five, two were opposition men, two were with great 
difficulty persuaded by ministers to keep out of the 
House, and Sir Allan himself was the fifth. This from 
our peculiar position led to a further complication. It 
has alw^ays been a doubtful question whether the min- 
istry are bound to have a double majority. Most men 
repudiate the doctrine and yet it is frequently acted 
upon, and as long as our present system continues of a 
ministry half Upper and half Lower Canadian it is 
impossible entirely to ignore the sectional majorities. 
In the present instance it is more particularly compli- 


cated because it is a coalition ministry, two of the Up- 
per Canada section being Reformers * and three Con- 
servatives, t and all the reform supporters have de- 
serted them but four. In fact there is no doubt that the 
ministry as a whole has lost the confidence of the House 
and country although it may not suit people's book 
to turn them out just yet. It did not therefore create 
surprise, when the House met on AVednesday, that none 
of the ministry were in their places and that the Soli- 
citor General t moved the adjournment till Friday. It 
is pretty well kno\^^l that all the Upper Canadians ex- 
cept Sir Allan tendered their resigation but Sir Ed- 
mund would not acknowledge the double majority prin- 
ciple and refused to accept it on that ground and Sir 
Allan on the same ground would not tender his. Upon 
this the whole ministry Upper and LoAver resigned 
except Sir Allan who said His Excellency might fill up 
his place but he would not give even a colour to the 
doctrine by voluntarily giving up. Now comes the most 
curious part of the business. Sir Edmund entrusted 
Colonel Tache, the senior French member of the old 
cabinet, with the formation of a new ministry. He 
called in J. A. MacDonald, and between them they re- 
established exactly the old ministry except Sir Allan. 
The thing w^as really most absurd. The country has 
certainly no confidence in Sir Allan who is looked upon 
as the embodiment of Upper Canada Toryism but to 
replace him as Premier by Col. Tache, who is the es- 
sence of Lower Canada Toryism, would certainly not 
mn back many of their Upper Canada friends, especi- 

* Spence and Horrison. 

tMacdonald, Cayley, and the Hon. P. M. Vankoughnet (1823- 
1869), president of the council and minister of agriculture. 

JThe Hon. (afterivards Sir) Henry Smith (1812-1868), solicitor- 
general for Upper Canada. 


ally as what had shaken the Upper Canada Liberals 
lately was the abandonment of everything to the Que- 
bec-Priest-Tory section of Lower Canada whom Col. 
Tache represents. Individually Sir Allan has done no 
harm this session as he has been confined to his bed 
with the gout since the second week. If therefore the 
old ministry come back to face the same majority 
against them it must only be that they have abandoned 
their double majority ground on which they resigned, 
after getting rid of the only man amongst them who 
held the same constitutional doctrine which they now 
are prepared to hold. On Friday * the old man, who is 
pluck to the backbone, was carried into the House in his 
chair to meet his enemies and his friends and he was 
enthusiastically received ; but the rest were not visible, 
and the Solicitor General again moved an adjournment 
till Monday. Sir Allan spoke sitting, but in their ab- 
sence would not make his full statement. Since then 
(for the House spoke out very plainly its opinion upon 
the subject and several new defections were an- 
nounced) it is rumoured that the more prudent of the 
ministry will not keep office, and it is doubtful whether 
even on Monday they will be ready to announce them- 

What has made these debates the more interesting 
to us is that I have been lugged into them. I told you 
that I had given evidence before the Committee on 
Public Accounts which would beget a row, and the 
committee very cunningly contrived to present their 
report the day the want of confidence vote came on. 
It and the evidence were not printed when the debate 
was going on, but the report was read, and it and the 
newspapers made a great deal more of my evidence 

*May 23, 1856. 


than it amounted to. The committee and the papers 
founded charges on my evidence against the ministry 
some of which were true enough, though the system 
established long before their day and not themselves 
was in fault, and others which were really not war- 
ranted by the facts. The impression however left on 
the House and country is that I made the charges. 
Now of the three departments implicated the Post- 
master General made the best defence he could without 
naming me ; the Board of Works, the worst of the lot, 
was very polite ; but the Crown Lands defended them- 
selves by attacking me. Cauchon, who certainly has 
mistaken the spelling of his name, read in Parliament 
three papers prepared by his subordinates, declaring 
my statements in the evidence to be entirely false and 
charging me with neglecting my duty and never having 
audited their accounts at all. Now the facts are these. 
On the 28th of February I wrote to him with my re- 
marks upon his accounts. It was a long letter but I 
will only mention three points which were made the 
foundation of the attack. (1) In his account with the 
Receiver General he professes to have an unapplied 
balance of £10,000 odd of which no notice was taken in 
the accounts sent to me, and this £10,000, which I heard 
of from the Receiver General, does not at all corres- 
pond with their books. In my letter I asked for an 
explanation of this which I could not understand. (2) 
In the Woods and Forests account there is an account 
of expenditure to the extent of £9,000 entirely without 
vouchers, which I mentioned to him almost in the words 
I have used to you. (There were however many simi- 
lar things remarked upon for of a total expenditure of 
£58,000 there were no vouchers sent to me for £17,000 
and insufficient ones for £25,000.) (3) He had paid in 


to the Receiver General or professed to have paid in 
£5,000 odd which he had never collected. To this letter 
I got no reply till April 24th, and from that day to this 
nothing more than that brief letter of half a page. 
When asked by the committee whether I had any re- 
marks to make upon the Crown Lands account, I gave 
them a copy of this letter; so that if it contains a 
charge, the charge was at any rate made to the com- 
missioner himself. In his speech he said that he had 
not considered my letter of any particular importance 
and that it had been altogether overlooked, and it ap- 
pears that the man at the head of the Woods and For- 
ests had never even heard of it till the committee re- 
ported. He then charges me with neglecting my duty 
because I had never come to his office to examine his 
books, etc., and says that my charge that there was an 
expenditure of £9,000 without vouchers is without the 
least foundation in fact, in proof of which he brought 
a wheelbarrow-full of papers into the House. More- 
over he, who has made himself ridiculous by converting 
his office into a convent and not allowing his clerks to 
speak to any one except in his presence or that of his 
secretary, permits them to send these documents to the 
papers, altered in essential particulars from what he 
read in the House, and to publish letters making fur- 
ther charges against me. I have had a little private 
correspondence with him, arising from my asking for 
copies of these documents which he at first would not 
give me. Its tone has not been very friendly, but it is 
not to him or in the papers that I mil defend myself ; 
my defence shall be made in the House where the 
charges were made. My first step was to write two 
official letters to Cayley, the one short stating that my 


duties as auditor were to ask for all necessary infor- 
mation and audit accounts in my own office which a 
Minister of the Crown who is responsible to the House 
alone may give or withhold as he pleases on his own 
responsibility, and showing that I had asked for the 
information and had not got it. The second entered 
into details of the particular items which had been the 
subject of debate, in order that he might be posted up. 
The first letter was intended to be read in the House, 
and in it I told him plainly that I wrote it in order that 
he might defend me. I showed them both to Macdonald 
who approved of what I had done. Cayley after re- 
ceiving the letters spoke to me about them and pro- 
fessed to be very indignant at Cauchon, nevertheless 
he never opened his mouth in the House upon the sub- 
ject. Macdonald it is true spoke of me in terms of warm 
personal friendship and told the House that I had only 
accepted office upon the distinct pledge that I should be 
quite unfettered in the matter of auditing, but it was 
not his place to defend me against Cauchon and other 
Frenchmen who followed in his wake, as he could know 
nothing of the particulars. It was Cayley 's place, and 
as soon as the debate was over I wrote another official 
letter to him telling him so and asking that he should 
either do so or intimate to me that my conduct did not 
admit of defence. I also reminded him that I had 
pointed out to him as certain to occur exactly what had 
happened, that if the auditor remained in his present 
position the Inspector General would at every moment 
be obliged either to disown his own officer for doing 
his duty or come into collision with his colleagues. 
That as making the office independent had not met with 
his approbation the only other escape from the dif- 


ficulty was to hold no communication with Members 
of the Executive except through him and asking for his 
instructions how I was to conduct the business of the 
office. (My present intention is to audit the accounts 
and make such remarks and applications for further 
information as may be required and send them upstairs 
to Cayley to sign.) He cannot avoid giving me an 
answer to this letter, and if he will not undertake my 
defence in the House I will get a private friend to move 
for copies of my letters. I am sure I shall be sup- 
ported in the House, and I am not sorry that the con- 
test has come on as it has. It will perhaps result in 
making the office Avhat it ought to be and that sooner 
or later 'v\dll bring an increase of salary, perhaps it may 
leave things as they are, and perhaps it may result in 
my getting an intimation to resign. The three chances 
are about even, but I have put a bold front on it hither- 
to and I will fight it out manfully. I know that all the 
Frenchmen in the ministry without exception are very 
indignant at me. There are only two members of the 
ministry that I can really depend upon much, and I 
know too much of politicians to rely very much upon 
them if it would inconvenience their own position. Be- 
tween ourselves my principal dependence is their 
fears. There is not a man in Canada, except Hincks, 
that they would be less inclined to see in Parliament 
than myself, and I have had a few peeps behind the 
scenes which would enable me to take up a most form- 
idable position against them. However whilst I talk 
of the ministrj^ it is doubtful whether we have a min- 
istry, and who my chief may be the day after tomorrow 
I will not undertake to pronounce. 

"VMiilst these exciting times have been in progress 
there has been a little underplot going on which came 


to its crisis on Thursday and has resulted in an addi- 
tion of £200 a year to my income, at least an addi- 
tion to that extent for two years, and that without any 
material addition to my work and responsibility. Dr. 
McCaul * the President of University College . . . wa^ 
our Vice Chancellor. AAHien the time for election came 
on I was asked to allow myself to be proposed. I con- 
sented provided I Avas not to have any personal can- 
vassing to do and I never spoke to one of the Senate 
except the man who proposed me, but there was plenty 
of canvassing and political and all sorts of other in- 
fluence used to bring people up or keep them away. 
The result was that almost everybody stayed away 
and I got four votes and he two. The Chancellor is 
evidently very indignant, which cannot be helped, but 
on the other hand the Professors are delighted. No 
doubt I shall have some extra work, but as the Chan- 
cellor, Vice Chancellor and I used to do all the work 
before, it won't make any very great difference and 
£400 is not to be despised. 

I forget whether I told you the result of Dr. Eyer- 
son's affair. Three or four days after his return home 
he called and entered into a long discussion about his 
accounts generally, and trying to make all sorts of 
reasons for his large balances and throwing the blame 
upon the Government and everybody but himself and 
after a two hours conference he put on his hat to go 
away, and at the door it seemed suddenly to strike him 
that he had forgotten to speak about the interest. He 
said that £900 of it was credited in his books to the 

* The Rev. John McCaul (1807-1886), successively president of 
King's College, the University of Toronto, and University College, 
Toronto (1853-80). See J. King, McCaul, Croft, Forneri (Tor- 
onto, 1914). 


Xormal school, although he did not give any explana- 
tion how it came that he had made no mention of it in 
the accounts rendered to me. As to the rest he said he 
thought he had a right to it, and said he had once 
spoken to Hincks about it, etc., etc., but if I thought it 
right he would refund it.* I said very little in reply 
and don't mean to say any more, but when he next 
squares his accounts with me he will find his balance 
in hand increased accordingly. AVe are very gracious 
and I was told that he Avas very anxious that I should 
be proposed as Vice Chancellor, but he forgot to come 
and vote for me. 

I am in some doubt whether to send this letter by 
mail tomorrow or keep it for another week, so as to 
give the conclusion of the crisis. I think however that 
anything we may hear during next week will only be 
the beginning of another crisis so I will not postpone 
this letter. 

Yours, etc., 

JoHX Laxgtoit 

* Dr. Ryei'son's treatment of his balances as a source of private 
profit had some warrant in English tradition. It is true that the 
tradition had been abandoned in England for some hundred years; 
but tradition dies hard, especially at a distance from the centre of 
reform. Lecky, in his History of England in the Eighteenth 
Century, vol. II., p. 473, (London, 1878), says: — 

"On his [sc. Pitt's] appointment as Paymaster of the Forces 
in 1746, he at once and for ever established his character by two 
striking instances of magnanimity. His predecessors had long 
been accustomed to invest in government securities the large 
floating balance which was left in their hands for the pajTnent of 
the troops and to appropriate the interest, [and also to receive as 
a perquisite of office one half per cent, of all subsidies voted by 
Parliament to foreign princes]. These [two] sources of emolu- 
ment being united to the regular salary of the office, made it in 
time of war extremely lucrative; and though they had never been 
legalized they were universally recognized, and had been received 
without question and without opposition by a long line of dis- 
tinguished statesmen." — W. A. L. 


To HIS Brother, Wm. Langtont 

November 9th, 1856 
My dear William, 

The last letter to you I think left me in the midst of 
a very pretty quarrel with the Crown Lands Depart- 
ment, which is now happily brought to a close. Having 
done all I could in the matter I left things to take their 
chance, throwing the responsibility upon my superiors. 
From time to time things came in to be audited, upon 
which occasions I took the opportunity of reporting 
that I had no materials for an efficient audit, and hav- 
ing put that on record I troubled myself no more about 
it. But by degrees the materials became more plen- 
tiful and the last batch of accounts were so satisfactory 
all proper vouchers being there, and almost all my sug- 
gestions of improvements in the manner of keeping 
and rendering being adopted, and my remarks upon 
them were so promptly" replied to, that I thought I 
might go and call at the office personally, which I was 
the more anxious to do because I had some business 
of my o^^Tl there, touching a timber license worth more 
than a hundred pounds, in which I was completely at 
the mercy of the commissioner, or rather his chief 
clerk of the Woods and Forests who was the individual 
who was at the bottom of all my differences with the 
department. We had a very amicable talk over mat- 
ters of account, and when I introduced my own affairs 
the clerk was sent for and ordered to prepare my 
license. Since then most of the former deficiencies 
have been by degrees sent in, and further suggestions 
of reforms have been acceded to, so that I may con- 
sider that department as fairly brought to a satisfac- 
tory state as far as auditing is concerned. The subs 


are evidently very glum, but the result is altogether 
satisfactory enough. The old quarrel may therefore 
be considered almost amongst the things that were, and 
therefore the papers relating to it which I send you 
have lost part of their interest, nevertheless I send 

In the meantime I have been constantly at Cayley 
about other reforms, sometimes verbally and some- 
times by written reports, but he is altogether imprac- 
ticable and immoveable. He can see nothing but dif- 
ficulties, and if he does agree with you he is afraid of 
doing anything for fear of offending somebody. Lat- 
terly I have given up attempting to make anything of 
him and do not see him for weeks together. Whenever 
I have cause to recommend any change or to remark 
upon anything wrong I put on record a written report, 
but I never allude to the subject verbally unless he 
begins it, and never expect (and therefore am not dis- 
appointed) any action on his part. Being deter- 
mined however that I would clear myself from any im- 
putation of negligence I determined to put my repre- 
sentations in a more formal shape, and therefore pre- 
pared about half a dozen memoranda in which I entered 
into detail upon a great many subjects where some ac- 
tion is required, which I submitted to the Board of 
Audit and had them recorded on our minutes and got 
the Board to assent to a minute embracing the heads 
of the memoranda. This with the memoranda them- 
selves I sent to Cayley, and took care that the other 
ministers should know of its existence. That is nearly 
two months ago and I never have had the smallest 
conversation with Cayley upon the subject, but I saw 
the document lying on the Governor General's table 


the other day and I can perceive the niinute bearing 

AMiilst the Crown Lands, where there is really noth- 
ing very wrong except a most complicated and inef- 
ficient system of account-keeping which they have in- 
herited from bygone days, kicked up a great fuss 
about my very inoffensive remarks, the Board of 
"Works, where everything is wrong and corruption of 
the grossest kind prevails, treated me with the greatest 
suavity but offered a most effectual passive resistance 
to an audit. I used to remonstrate about once a fort- 
night in a letter to Cayley, which no doubt went into 
the pigeon hole ; but the Board of Works ignored the 
existence of the Audit Office. At last I wrote him a 
letter, enumerating all the letters I had at different 
times written to him and to the Board of Works, and 
saying that I could do no more and should await his 
instructions for the future. I took it to him when I 
knew Joe Morrison * was with him, and so the question 
was discussed, subsequently brought before Council, 
and they valiantly resolved that if the accounts were 
not sent in they would dismiss the book-keeper. Now 
the chief commissioner is a very polite Frenchman 
who knows and cares nothing about public works or 
accounts but has the task assigned to him in the present 
ministry of keeping in good humour the Quebec section 
of the Lower Canadians, besides some private interest 
in feeding a certain Baby, a great contractor, through 
whose hands from £100,000 to £200,000 of public money 
pass annually and of whom I have always observed 
that wherever his name appears the only vouchers I 
can find are that he got the money (which I can very 
well believe), but as to whether justly or not the docu- 

* Supra, note page 257. 


ments are almost silent. Then there is the Assistant 
Commissioner or non-political head — a jolly fellow 
brought out by Lord Sydenham. . . And thirdly there 
is the Secretary who physiognomically bears a great 
resemblance to a cat shamming to be asleep, and his 
actions do not belie his face. Lemieux receives you 
with the greatest suavity (and he really is a very 
pleasant man) he assents to the justness of everything 
you say, but he does not profess to know anything 
about details and refers you to Killaly. Killaly is also 
a most agreeable man, he is quite shocked at the ir- 
regularity in the department but he is only an engineer, 
he never meddles with anything else, he knows no 
more about accounts than he does of politics and refers 
you to Mr. Begley. Mr. Begley is not an agreeable 
man, his situation is a very unpleasant one, he is only 
a servant, he writes letters as he is instructed, and if 
he is instructed to send accounts he will do so, but he 
is only a servant and you must speak to Mr. Lemieux 
or Killaly. So they wisely determined to dismiss the 
book-keeper who came into office about six months ago 
and inherited books which they never tried to balance 
for a great many years and naturally have failed to 
accomplish now. But the book-keeper fortunately can 
show that the accounts for the quarter ending 30th 
April were made out several months ago, but Mr. Beg- 
ley told him not to send them till further orders. This 
occurred about a month ago, nevertheless I did not get 
that quarter's accounts till yesterday and from a cur- 
sory glance I can see that they are very incomplete. 
It is pretty clear that we must have a fight before long 
and I am preparing for it. 

In other respects I get along pretty well. The only 
other fight which I told you of, with Dr. Ryerson, has 


ended in a tnice. I have done my dut}' in reporting 
the malversation, and at the end of each quarter in 
reporting on his accounts I call his attention to the 
£1,800 I have charged him ^vith for interest received, to 
which in his reply he alludes in some such sentence as 
this, **The remaining observations A^ill form the sub- 
ject of another communication," which never comes. 
I am also industriously reducing his balance by refus- 
ing his applications for more money, against which he 
loudly remonstrates. John Macdonald acknowledged 
that they ought to dismiss him but they dare not. I 
should be sorry for that for he is an useful man, but 
I think their courage might extend to making him dis- 
gorge.* Perhaps, when Parliament meets, of two 
dangers they may choose the least. In other respects 
we get along smoothly enough. A man who is willing 
to work generally gets plenty to do, and they have com- 
menced referring all sorts of things to me which do not 
strictly belong to my department. Amongst other 
things they have gradually got into the way of sending 
down applications for warrants to me for report, which 
Cayley always objected to at first. I think it is more 
correct that I should report whether a pa^^nent is 
authorized before it is made than afterwards, but there 
are difficulties. An order in council must necessarily 
be authority enough for me and precludes my enquir- 
ing whether the order in council is founded on just 
grounds, but if I report upon a claim for money it is 
evidently not very easy for them to pass an order con- 
trary to my report. Sometimes too an application is 

* This did occur in 1858, according to the Globe's review of the 
Ryerson case in the issue of January 28, 1859 (daily). Other 
references to the case may be found in the Globe, in the weekly 
editions of May 28, June 4, and June 11, 1858, and in the daily 
editions of March 9 and March 22, 1859, and February 22, 1860. 


referred to me after the order in council has passed, 
when I have to interpret it ; no very easy thing some- 
times. In both these cases it occasionally happens that 
my report is not what they want it to be altogether, 
and it comes back to me with an unofficial intimation 
that they want the report altered. It is treading on 
ticklish ground sometimes. I have modified the report 
sometimes and I have refused to alter it, but I gener- 
ally get out of the difficulty by submitting to Coun- 
cil whether it should be so or so, or submitting whether 
they meant so or so, and in almost all these cases I 
have found that they decide according to my original 
report. It is one thing to do a questionable act at once 
without explanation and another to decide between two 
courses pointed out to you. 

I have been thinking of striking for wages. I have 
raised the salary of all my clerks. I engaged Mr. Cruse 
at £300 but I am so much pleased with him that in June 
I raised him to £350 and the other day (that being the 
limit of my authority), recommended him for £400. 
I think I am worth £750. 

My next great trouble is the University. TATien I 
was made Vice Chancellor I considered the salary as 
clear gain, and it is pretty nearly so because I should 
have worked nearly as hard for nothing. But one 
way or another it takes up nearly half my time and 
brings me somewhat unpleasantly into collision with 
people with whom I don't want to collide. We are 
acting under a most iniquitous laAV by which Govern- 
ment constituted itself the guardian of the University, 
and they administer our funds and property ^^^thout 
the slightest regard to the interests of their ward. 
It is a little fund, no little fund indeed, of which Parlia- 
ment knows nothing and which has nothing to do with 


the provincial revenue. Just at this present moment 
they are improving some property of Cayley's mother 
in law with our money, and I am going to write to- 
night a formal remonstrance upon the subject to His 
Excellency as visitor. He sees the evil and keeps say- 
ing that we must be made independent of governments, 
but he himself is always interfering in the paltriest 
details. It was only yesterday, because the Senate 
would not get him out of a scrape which he got into by 
interfering beyond his province, that he was so cross 
and snappish with me that in anybody but a Governor 
General it would have been called ungentlemanly. 
However I must put off the University to another time. 

Yours, etc., 

John Langton 

A Lettek about 
Vniveksity Affairs 

John Langton 


Toronto, Nov. 12, 1856 

Before entering into my own position in University 
matters I think I must give you a sketch of its history. 
It originated in our energetic old Bishop* who, when 
land was comparatively a drug, got together an endow- 
ment which, after being for twenty-five years and more 
a perfect mine of wealth for speculators, is worth now 
little if anything short of £500,000. The University 
park of 150 acres in Toronto is even now worth £1,000 
an acre, and what it may reach eventually no man can 
teU, though I hope it will never be sold. Besides this 
we have a great deal of valuable land in all parts of the 
Province, unsold and unproductive, and an income 
from rents and investments of upwards of £15,000 a 
year. About 1840, when Church of Englandism be- 
came less fashionable, King's College was legislated 
out of the Bishop's hands and passed through many 
phases, but the greatest change was in 1847. The en- 
downnent having even then become valuable, an effort 
was made to have it divided. There was to be a central 
University and local denominational Colleges were to 
get a share of the funds. This was the conservative 
doctrine, but Baldwin t always stuck out for the in- 
tegrity of the institution and, as his party came in 
about that time with an overwhelming majority, Can- 

*The Right Rev. the Hon. John Strachan (1778-1867), first 
bishop of Toronto, and first president of King's College, Toronto. 
t See note p. 257. 



ada presented the astonishing sight of a nation voting 
against their indi\T.dual interests and each denomina- 
tion refusing to take a share of the plunder. Baldwin's 
bill converted King's College into the University of 
Toronto, an absolutely godless institution according to 
the pietists. A very few years however proved the bad 
working, not of his conception, but of his machinery. 
The convocation was not a numerous body enough to 
have much influence, though they had great powders; 
and the great majority of them had got their degrees 
in the Bishop 's time and seceded to his rival institution 
Trinity College. The professors who formed the senate 
found all their time occupied in managing the selling 
and leasing of the lands and disentangling the immense 
mass of speculation which had existed. The professors 
of various branches of medicine were so numerous as 
to outwit the rest, and they first lowered the other 
salaries and then raised their own. Before three 
years the University had got into very bad odour, and 
had degenerated into a very expensive and very bad 
medical school. Hincks* now stepped in with a new 
Act. He abolished convocation and the faculties of 
Law and Medicine and their host of professors; he 
assumed the management of the property, and made 
two corporations out of one, viz. University College, 
the teaching body, and the University of Toronto, an 
abstraction for granting degrees to which University 
College and all the other colleges in the country were 
supposed to be affiliated, whilst Upper Canada College^ 
a High School, (also an institution of the Bishop^'s 
creation with an income of nearl}- £6,000), lost its cor-_ 
porate existence and was placed under the manage- 

* See note p. 227. 


ment of the University. This was all very well in 
"theory, but in practice it has been worse than Bald- 
win's measure. It is all very well affiliating colleges, 
but as several of these bodies had charters for confer- 
ring degrees it involved the absurdity of affiliating one 
university to another. None of the colleges got any 
share of the spoil, which was all they cared for, and 
we further reduced the link by not making membership 
of some college necessary to membership of the Uni- 
versity. It is somewhat of a novel experiment but I 
think a very sound one. We admit to degrees, scholar- 
ships, etc., anybody who will come up to our standard, 
which is a very much higher one than any of the 
local colleges exact or are capable of bringing their 
students up to. In practice therefore we have but one 
affiliated college, viz. University College, and yet the 
Senate (\dth the exception of myself and tv\^o or three 
others) consists of the heads of these other colleges, 
who bear us no love and, if they attend at all, do it only 
to obstruct. It has also had this ill effect, that the 
really important body, University College, has been 
thrown entirely into the hands of its President and 
only representative in our Senate, Dr. McCaul* . . . 
The professors, who are a body of as good men as any 
country need wish to possess, are extinguished and Dr. 
McCaul is University College; and as U. Coll. is the 
real successor of the late University and is maintained 
out of tlie same funds with no well drawn line of par- 
tition in the purse, he was very near becoming the 
University also. Then as to the funds — everything 
is vested in the Queen. We cannot even pay any cur- 
rent expense out of income without a statute to which 

* See note p. 265. 


the Governor* considers that he must give an active 
assent, that is he must consult his council and keep us 
sometimes six months waiting for the fiat. At least 
this was his interpretation of his visitational powers 
at first, but he is beginning to think a passive assent, 
(reserving to himself the power of disallowing), will 
be sufficient, and in practice we do spend money with- 
out an}' statute or consulting him at all. As to the 
principal, we cannot touch that without an order in 
council placing it at our disposal; and there ought to 
be a similar order placing parts of our income at our 
disposal, but as none are ever passed we go on spend- 
ing as I said before without any formal authoritj^ The 
whole thing is a mass of confusion. Ordinary current 
expenses must be paid and I draw cheques which 
the bursar pays, and, there being no line drawn. Dr. 
McCaul also draws cheques; and as it is often 
doubtful whether it is an University or a college 
matter the bursar, who has to come to me to 
have his accounts audited, sometimes will pay the 
Dr.'s cheques and sometimes won't without my 
signature also. But if the Government are care- 
less of us sometimes and leave a statute for rais- 
ing a servant's wages £15 a year unsanctioned for 
six months, and for a year and a half never even 
acknowledge receipt of our ajjplication to have money 
placed at our disposal for buildings and a library, in 
other cases they are very attentive to our funds. They 
ordered the bursar to lend £15,000 to a bankrupt rail- 
way, which would have been entirely lost had not an- 
other company a year afterguards bought them out and 

* Sir Edmund Walker Head, Bart. (1805-1868), governor-general 
of Canada (1854-^). Head had been from 1830 to 1837 a fellow 
of Merton College, Oxford. 


somebody in the House (not having our case in \^ew) 
put a clause into the Act that they should pay the debts 
of the bankrupt. We had a lot of land which in conse- 
quence of some of the new railways is going to be the 
site of a village. AVe have more money than we could 
or the Government would let us spend, but they or- 
dered the land to be sold for £2,000 whilst four months 
afterwards it fetched £8,000 and is now probably worth 
£20,000. But the grossest of all cases was perpetrated 
immediately after the passing of the Act. Hincks 
passed another Act authorizing the Government to 
take such portion of the University park as might not 
be wanted for University purposes for the erection of 
Parliament Buildings ; and the Senate not having been 
yet appointed, -^^ithout enquiry what we wanted for 
University purposes, they forthv^ith took possession 
of the whole, turned the College out of its building and 
transferred them temporarily to the old Parliament 
house, and forthwith began draining, road making, etc., 
and, although the plan of Parliament Buildings fell 
through, the Board of Works continued to spend £10,- 
000 in preparation. ^Mien the Government moved here 
the old Parliament Buildings were wanted, so they 
wanted to transfer the College to a vacant orphans' 
asylum, (a more appropriate suggestion), but remon- 
strances having been made they did add to and fit up 
the old medical school, (the old college buildings which 
cost us £15,000 having in the meantime been g-utted 
by the Board of Works and rendered uninhabitable). 
This was the state of affairs when I came to live at 
Toronto. The next encroachment of the Government 
was opening a road through the park, ^vithout the com- 
mon courtesy of consulting us about it. This led to 
a formal remonstrance. Three members of the Senate 


and three members of the Government met, with the 
Governor as moderator, and we agreed to a memoran- 
dmn that our application for money to build, etc., 
should be answered (after a year and a half), which it 
was, and they gave us £75,000 for the buildings and 
£20,000 for the library ; that they should hand over to 
us all the park west of the avenue, which they also did, 
reserving to themselves the other fifty* temporarily till 
it was decided where the seat of Government was to be, 
when it was also to be given up if not wanted for Par- 
liament Buildings; and lastly that they should do 
nothing to this other half in the meantime without con- 
sulting us. It has been decided by a solemn vote of 
Parliament that the seat of Government shall not be 
at Toronto; nevertheless they won't give up the east 
half, though we wanted it for the site of our new 
buildings (which I am glad of, for it was a bad site) ; 
and, without any notice to us and in spite of our remon- 
strances, they fitted up the old college buildings (which 
we wanted to pull down and use the materials) as a 
lunatic asylum, enclosing about twenty acres of our 
park ; and to add insult to injury the official designation 
is The Universifi/ Lunatic Asylum. This was the fea- 
ther that broke Blake 'sf back and he resigned the 
Chancellorship. The nominal feather at least, for I 
suspect he had other reasons. 

This is a very long story, but it is necessary for you 
to understand my position. The University itself has 
hardly a friend in the country, and many enemies. The 
Church looks upon us as godless, and perhaps would 
have no objection to a slice of the endowment. The 
Methodists, the next most powerful body with Ryer- 

* [acres] t See note p. 255 


son* at their head, make no secret of their hatred and 
their aspirations for a share of the money. The Church 
of Kome professes to be friendly, but though some of 
our more active members of the Senate are Catholic 
it is observable that we never have had one Cath- 
olic student. The Church of Scotland has an Uni- 
versity of its own which is very poor and very in- 
efficient, which may lead one to suspect how the wind 
blows though they are too cautious to express an 
opinion. The only powerful sect with us is the Free 
Church to which may be added some Baptists, Inde- 
pendents and other small fry. The Lawf ignores our 
degrees except those in Arts, and the leading members 
of the bar are not churchmen. Medicine is against us 
almost to a man, for the dissatisfied professors are 
establishing private schools and fear a restoration of 
the faculty. Baldwin and his friends stand aloof and 
prophecy evil of us. Of the five Upper Canada Min- 
isters, three don't conceal their desire to divide the 
endowment, and one is too insignificant to have an-^ 
opinion or to give it weight if he had one. The gover- 
nor general is about the best friend we have, but he is 
a very difficult man to deal wdth and brings old country 
notions to apply where they will not fit. A governor 
general is a trump card certainly but in some respects 
the least reliable card in the pack, first, because he must 
do after all what his ministry wants and he can nev^er 
tell from day to day who they may be, and secondly, 

* The Rev. Egerton Everson, superintendent of education. 

1 1 mean the profession who, whilst admitting people to practice 
in two years less who have our degree in Arts, take no notice of 
our degrees in Law. I don't know what the use of them is. The 
examination is very absurd, being all on questions of practice 
and detail whilst it ought to be upon first principles, but I am 
in hot water enough without attempting to meddle with Blake's 
programme of law studies. [J.L.]. 



because from his position he acts upon very imperfect 
knowledge of facts, one day ridiculously alarmed at 
some noisy newspaper editor and the next day ear- 
wigged by you know not whom. This is certainly not a 
very flourishing state for an university, and my o^vn 
position in it does not make it better. Here am I a 
perfect stranger in Toronto come suddenly amongst 
them to upset old established ways and men, not loved 
much you may depend upon it by Dr. McCaul, and 
looked upon with suspicion at any rate by Blake and 
his friends, brought into constant collision with the 
Government whose servant I am, and with nobody to 
back me except the professors who from hatred of 
McCaul stick to me like bricks but mthout much power, 
and half a dozen very worthy Baptist, Independent and 
Presb^'terian parsons who enable me to carry a ma- 
jority in the Senate. I have nobody to consult with, 
for my parsonic allies are quiet men who don't like any 
more responsibility than is involved in a vote and the 
professors very msely don't like appearing openly in 
the troubled waters. It has been a very difficult card 
to play even if I had succeeded to the helm in smooth 
water, but to take the command in a storm is nervous 
work. You may easily imagine from what I have said 
before that the ship is not in the very best order or the 
crew much to be relied on, but you cannot conceive 
unless you saw it the utter state of confusion in which 
everj^thing is. I must put things into some order and 
in doing so I cannot help at every step treading on 
somebody's toes. Dr. McCaul is no doubt a first rate 
scholar and a very clever man and he has one element 
fitting him for command, that whether it is by bullying 
or by compromising or by artful countermining he 
never loses sight of the main object — to have his own 


way in the end; but he is absolutely deficient in the 
talent of order. Partly perhaps it is design. The end 
he always keeps in view, the means he is quite un- 
scrupulous about, and provided a thing will serve his 
turn in the end he cares not for its being suitable to the 
present state of affairs. No matter how heterogeneous 
or inconsistent with each other the materials may be, 
if he has or thinks he has the clue by which he can fit 
each of them into some place in his proposed building 
they will serve his turn. You may think I am preju- 
diced against the man because we have been brought 
into rivalry, but I formed my opinion of him very early 
in the day and those that know him best entertain the 
same. AMiilst I was writing the previous page I had a 
visit from Dr. "Wilson * one of our professors and, the 
conversation turning on McCaul, he warned me for the 
fiftieth time to beware of him and he added: — if he 
opposes you you may be safe enough by fighting it out, 
but if ever he entirely agrees vnth. you and appears to 
go cordially with you, beware, he will trip you up if he 
can. I omitted one trait of McCaul 's — when a man has 
such complicated plans on his hands he can rarely be 
certain what turn things may take and he very rarely 
commits himself so far to an opinion that he cannot 
withdraw from it, or does a thing so effectually that it 
cannot be undone. If he does not see clearly how it will 
work in, he had rather do nothing and wait the course 
of events. Blake on the other hand was as determined 
in gaining his object, but he went straight to it regard- 
less of any obstacles. He was very imperious and hard 
working and wanted not only to do everything his owm 

* Daniel (afterwards Sir Daniel) Wilson (1816-1892), professor 
of history and English literature in the University of Toronto 
(1853-92) and president of University College (1881-92). 


way but to do it himself, and as his duties in Chancery 
left him little leisure he left things undone or half done, 
or, what was worse, to be finished by McCaul. These 
two men had the entire management of everything and 
a pretty mess they made of it. Things had got to such 
a pass, there was such a want of system, that I had to 
undertake a reform. There is hardly a thing that was 
done which I have not had more or less to undo, and 
that with the greatest difficulty in finding out what was 
the former practice. Blake was ill after his resigna- 
tion and is now in England, the professors have always 
been studiously kept in the dark by McCaul, and Mc- 
Caul himself impenetrable. Some little I can glean 
from the registrar and bursar, but I am compelled to 
tread on their toes too. They have been very cordial 
with me, for they hate McCaul, but the bursar's office 
stops more than £3,000 a year out of our £15,000, which 
I want to reform, and the registrar is the bursar's son 
in law. The deeper I search the more I find confusion 
pervading everything. The monetary system or rather 
no system is radically bad, the limits of the College and 
University authority almost undefined, the very course 
of instruction or rather examination has to be entirely 
remodelled (here the professors can really assist me 
with advice and they never were consulted or their 
views properly placed before the Senate, whilst Mc- 
Caul is a classical scholar and nothing more). In this 
branch of my reforms I find very great difficulty, for 
though I think I can carry my changes with some com- 
promises I cannot help seeing that my parsonic friends 
whilst voting with me have some doubts whether I am 
really competent to upset a whole system and build up 
a new one in opposition to McCaul who has been a fel- 
low or a president of a college all his life, and I can 


well excuse them for I have considerable doubts my- 
self. Another change I have had to make which is any- 
thing but popular with the students. We had a much 
larger income than suificed for our wants and, proceed- 
ing upon the plan that anything we left would be 
snapped up by others and only sharpen their appetite, 
we spent in some things most lavishly, granting 
scholarships and prizes without limit, so that it w^as 
the exception rather than the rule if a student had not 
a scholarship or half a dozen prizes. But now we have 
not only very much increased our expenses in other 
ways but we are about to spend on buildings, library 
and museum near £100,000 from our capital, and to 
enable our income thereby reduced to meet necessary 
expenses we must cut off the superfluities. I therefore 
attacked the prizes and scholarships, and succeeded in 
reducing the latter to one third and the former to one- 
tenth. Upper Canada College has been a great source 
of trouble. It is a school endowed with about £6,000 a 
year of public money, and it is without exception the 
worst school I ever saw or heard of. Blake had com- 
menced the attack here, and as a preparatory measure 
had got the Principal and the worst master pensioned 
off. How bad is the system, or again I say no system, 
you may imagine from this one fact. There is a com- 
mercial form, viz. boys who do not learn Latin and 
Greek. Out of nine masters, some of them with. £500 
or £600 a year, one at £100 a year has been assigned to 
a class of about fifty in which, on the negative prin- 
ciple of not learning Latin and Greek, are placed boys 
ranging from ten to eighteen years of age, w^iatever 
their qualifications may be in other respects. Blake 
I say had commenced the attack and had sketched out 
a very good scheme, which is however in abeyance till 


we get a new Principal, which we are not likely to do 
in a hurry I am afraid. Being anxious to get a good 
man we made his salary £750 which, with his share of 
the fees and a capital house, firewood, etc., is at least 
equal to £1,000 a year, which is as much as any of the 
judges get except the Chief Justice and the Chancellor. 
We also arranged that he was to have charge of the 
boarding house, which has hitherto been a disgrace to 
the school and upon which we have been expending this 
summer £2,000 to £3,000. Now the Governor promised 
to get us a man and being totally ignorant of the coun- 
try he told him that he might probably by the boarders 
raise his income £400 or £500 more. Our man very 
wisely I think refused to have anything to do with 
boarding except superintendence, and suggested that 
we might take the profits of the boarding service our- 
selves and allow hmi something towards the same sum 
by fees or some other way. Now if the Principal man- 
aged the boarding house, if he was a good manager 
he might have made something of it though never £400 
a year, but if we are to manage it we must pay some- 
body else, for the service, what the Principal would 
have got; so we totally declined to make any addition 
to the salary, and the Governor was in a great pet 
and said he washed liis hands of the whole concern. 
The spending of the money I think I have at last got 
into a somewhat more satisfactory condition. I have 
got committees appointed, each regulated by its o^^^l 
statute, for the buildings, the grounds, the library, the 
museum, the observatory (toward which the Govern- 
ment contributes), and Upper Canada College (which 
has its o^^^l funds). All of these have money placed 
at their disposal from time to time by the Senate and 
are responsible for the spending of it, instead of the 


miscellaneous system which formerly prevailed, all 
centering at last on Dr. McCanl. On these committees 
I have also placed the best of the professors, which for 
the first time gives them any proper voice in the man- 
agement of affairs. 

Since I finished the last sheet I think I have got the 
examination subjects into a more favourable position 
than I ever succeeded in doing before. Dr. McCaul 
and I are a conmaittee to arrange details and it is im- 
possible to move him a step. Day after day we meet 
and talk over the thing — we apparently get a thing 
settled one day but it has all to be gone over again the 
next, and he is constantly starting new ideas, merely 
I believe to create delay. He has already put the 
thing off so long that we have been obliged to 
commence a new year on the old system, but I think 
by stealing two whole days from the office and 
sitting up to three o'clock in the morning I have 
at last got tilings into train and we may get 
a new system adopted for next year. I often 
think I am a fool to trouble myself so much about 
it. ^Miat is the University to me that I should 
bother myself ^\'ith it! ^Yhj can't I take my £200 a 
year with as little trouble as possible as long as I stay 
here ? But it is not my nature any more than it would 
be yours; and besides I am positivel}^ ashamed to see 
our printed programme, such a mass of absurdity is it. 
I must in vindication of my folly give you a sample 
or two and there are many more. AVe have a depart- 
ment of History and a man at the head of it Dr. Daniel 
Wilson, well knoMm in Europe as well as here, but his 
department is really ridiculous. In a five years course 
he only brings English History do^m to Henry Yll, 
and there is absolutely no other history except that of 


Egypt do^m to Cleopatra and that of Spain under 
Ferdinand and Isabella, French and German history 
going with those languages, which are under the care 
of a very worthy pudding-headed old Italian to whom 
they have been assigned upon the principle, which ap- 
pears to be accepted elsewhere as well as in Canada, 
that foreign languages are safe in the hands of a 
foreigner. The foreign language department is also 
most contemptible which must I am afraid be laid at 
the door of poor Dr. Forneri;* but Dr. Wilson is in- 
nocent of the shortcomings of history, except in as far 
as it may be a retribution upon him for the holy hatred 
vrith which he regards McCaul, a hatred most religious- 
ly returned. As examples of the inconsistency of our 
system I may mention that during the whole course 
three or four scholarships are assigned to Classics 
and to Mathematics for one to the Natural sciences, 
but the last year, when we end wath five gold medals, 
two are given to the Natural Sciences and only three 
amongst all the rest of the departments. Also that, 
whilst scholarships are confined to men in the first class, 
there is nothing for the second, and such valuable 
prizes for the third that I had a man remonstrating the 
other day at the injustice done to him by the examiner 
placing him, by mistake he contended, in the first class. 
We have a department of Metaphysics and Ethics un- 
der a most learned and excellent man Dr. Beaven.t 
After the first two years we allow students to exercise 
options and they may under certain conditions drop 
Classics, but then they must retain Metaphysics, j^et 

* James Forneri (1789-1869), professor of modern languages in 
University College, Toronto (1853-65). See J. King, op. cit. 

fThe Rev. James Beaven (1801-1875), professor of ethics and 
metaphysics in King's College, the University of Toronto, and 
University College, Toronto (1842-71). 


Dr. Beaven insists upon examining almost altogether 
from Aristotle, Cicero, etc., and positively requires 
them to read more Greek and Latin that Dr. McCaul 
himself. I argue in vain but I will have my own way 
in this case. Dr. McCaul assenting and delighted to see 
me getting into trouble with Dr. Beaven, and the Dr., 
who in former days on account of Clergy Reserve here- 
sies had told me he looked upon me as little less than a 
heathen, now plainly intimates that I am also one of 
the unlettered. 

The buildings have been a terrible source of trouble 
all summer. Money, site, style, plan, elevation, archi- 
tect's pay, have all been the subject of endless discus- 
sion and annoyance. We got the money in Blake 's day, 
but the Governor General seems to think that he is per- 
sonally responsible for the expenditure and is always 
interfering, now making light of any expenditure which 
hits his fancy at the moment and ignoring all difficulty 
as to squaring our expenses to our reduced income 
from otherwise appropriated capital, and now over- 
come A^-ith a niggardly fit. The battle of fhe site too 
was fought in Blake 's day and helped to his defeat for 
both he and the architect were tempted by a site at the 
end of a fine avenue nearly a mile long. St. Peter's 
Avould look magnificent there, but anything we could 
build would be but a mushroom at that distance and 
we should have had to have sacrified convenience to 
great elevation. I was not sorry when the lunatic 
asylum blocked us out from that ground, for we have a 
beautiful site elsewhere. From this time my troubles 
commenced. Blake proposed to make me the building 
committee but I declined unless he and Chief Justice 


Draper * were associated mth me, promising to do all 
the work. I had not sufficiently calculated upon Blake 's 
desire to do everything himself, whilst between Chan- 
cery and the government he could do nothing. How- 
ever we took ample powers, and for two valuable 
months after Cumberland returned t we did nothing. 
After Blake's resignation 1 had it all to myself, for 
Draper does not want to interfere and never does un- 
less I ask his advice, and unless it had been in one 
man's hands we never could have got along at all. 
The site being chosen Cumberland drew a first sketch 
of a Gothic building, but the Governor would not hear 
of Gothic and reconunended Italian, shewing us an 
example of the style, a palazzo at Sienna which, if he 
were not Governor General and had written a book 
on art, I should have called one of the ugliest buildings 
I ever saw. However after a week's absence the Gov- 
ernor came back with a new idea, it was to be Byzan- 
tine; and between them they concocted a most hideous 
elevation. After this the Governor was absent on a 
tour for several weeks during which we polished away 
almost all traces of Byzantine and got a hybrid with 
some features of Norman, of early English, etc., with 
faint traces of Byzantium and the Italian palazzo, but 
altogether a not unsightly building and on his return 
His Excellency approved. When our Government were 
taunted in the House with their want of policy and un- 
natural alliance of parties and they were asked whe- 
ther they called themselves a conservative or a reform 
or a coalition ministry, one of them replied that they 

*The Hon. William Henry Draper (1801-1877), chief justice 
of the court of Common Pleas in Upper Canada (1856-63], and 
chief justice of Upper Canada (1863-77). 

t From England, where he had gone in coimection with prep- 
arations for the designing of the building. 


called themselves the Government of Canada. So we, 
if asked after the style of our building, may call it the 
Canadian style; and to an uncritical eye it is a very 
respectable and rather imposing structure, or will be, 
but the various breeds which entered into its composi- 
tion have cropped out in somewhat different propor- 
tions in its two principal facades. Concurrently with 
this of course the plan was progressing, and as the 
College is also to be accommodated I had to consult its 
authorities. It has e\'idently been a sore with McCaul 
that he has nothing to say to the building, but as I have 
got absolute power here I will keep it. However I had 
to ask them to appoint a committee to confer with me 
and he made a last great effort to consider it a joint 
building committee, but not being backed by the Pro- 
fessors I escaped that rock. Their demands for space 
were however outrageous and at last it was only by 
telling them, as the Governor authorized me to do, that 
if they did not moderate their expectations he would 
stop the building altogether that I succeeded in making 
a compromise. I shewed the plan to the Governor who 
was in a very bad temper that morning, hardly looked 
at it, assented, and went on his tour ; so the elevation 
was completed in accordance and I advertised for ten- 
ders. 'WTien he came back and the whole thing was 
submitted to him, he counted up the lecture rooms, 
stormed at our extravagance, and said he would stop 
the whole thing. However I evaded that difficulty by 
scratching out the word lecture room and erasing all 
appearance of seats for the students, Avhen he said it 
was much more sensible, so we proceeded to stake out 
the ground. But here an unexpected difficulty arose. 
It seems that His Excellency had all along thought that 
the South front was to face the East [West?], and 


nothing would satisfy him but so it must be and under 
his superintendence we proceeded to measure and stake 
out, Cumberland's * face exliibiting blank despair for 
it brought his chemical laboratory where no sun would 
ever shine into it, his kitchens, etc., into the prettiest 
part of the grounds, and several other inconveniences 
which His Excellency said could be easily remedied. 
However there stands on the ground an elm tree, a 
remnant of the old forest, with a long stem as such 
trees have and a little bush on the top of it, not unlike a 
broom with its long handle stuck into the ground, and 
it soon became evident that the tree would fall a sacri- 
fice. This he would not permit and when I hinted that 
it would certainly be blo^\Ti do^^^l before long, he told 
me it was the handsomest tree about Toronto (as it 
certainly is one of the tallest), and politely added "but 
you Canadians have a prejudice against trees." He 
then stalked off the ground followed by his A.D.C. I 
thought Cumberland would have throwTi the whole 
thing up that day, he was so annoyed, but we took up 
the stakes and staked it out our way mth the South 
front facing the South, and by a little stuffing and 
squeezing we got the tree into such a position that it 
may be saved but with the almost certainty that when 
it is blown down it will take some of the students' 
quarters vnih it. It is some comfort that that will oc- 
cur before Tom f is old enough to go to college, or I 
should be uneasy in stormy nights. However I bless 
that tree and hope its shadow may never be less for it 
got us out of [the] scrape. When the Governor paid 
us a visit next day he was quite satisfied and compli- 
mentary, and in congratulating us upon the safety of 

*Lieut.-Col. Frederick William Cumberland (1821-1881), civil 
engineer and architect, 
t The writer's eldest son. 


the tree he said to Cumberland with that impertinence 
which governors general can so well indulge in "For I 
am sure you can never put anything up half as pretty. ' ' 
That day I met John Macdonald in the street who 
said, ''so I hear you have been cutting do^^^l the trees," 
and calling upon Lady Head that afternoon with the 
ladies she asked, ''Did you save that tree?" — upon 
which a smile passed between her and the Aide. The 
Chief Justice of New Brunswick also, who was there 
on a visit, was present at the first indignation and sug- 
gested that the tree might perhaps be transplanted 
adding, "did not 3^our Excellency transplant one al- 
most as large at St. John I" The great man mut- 
tered something about a failure, from all which I con- 
clude that if we Canadians have prejudices about trees 
our governors are not quite exempt from the same. 
This w^as pretty nearly the last of my troubles al)out 
the building. During these interviews and others on 
other subjects with the Governor I learnt a trick or 
two about great men. Of course it is very improper to 
argue with a governor general, but I was not bred a 
courtier and am somewhat inclined to argument. But 
I never do arg-ue in presence of a third person, especi- 
ally before Cumberland against whom it is clear the 
Governor has a great prejudice. He has often up- 
braided me for deserting him when we were agreed 
upon a point. But alone I have no such scruples. I 
stick to my point stiffly and often gain it, and if I find 
it prudent to appear convinced I generally can get it 
accomplished by returning to the subject next day in 
somewhat a different direction. Hitherto at any rate 
I have got everything I much cared about my own way 
except the removal of Upper Canada College on which 
he is inflexible. With all its endowment it is getting 


deeper into debt, but it stands on ground worth £50,000 
at least, far too confined for its accommodation with 
proper playgrounds, etc., and on a main thoroughfare 
where you cannot keep the boys out of mischief ; whilst 
we have ground in abundance in the University park 
and could put up far better buildings for the money 
and gain £1,000 a year besides, almost exactly central 
too to the space and not very far from the centre of the 
population of Toronto. But Upper Canada College 
lies almost at his door, and I suppose he thinks that the 
centre of the world whilst it is really at one corner. 

You may easily imagine that all these things keep 
me pretty fully employed. Indeed since my appoint- 
ment I thinlv the University has taken up fully half 
my time and much more than half my thoughts. And 
all for what? For £200 a year you wiU say. But in 
two or three years at any rate I shaU be moved away 
and have no further connection with them, even if I 
remain as long or the University itself continues in 
existence. Since Blake's resignation they have not 
been able to get anybody to take the Chancellorship 
and I am not surprised — at least no one whom they will 
appoint. Dr. McCaul has been moving heaven and 
earth to be appointed, and as he can play the courtier 
very well I should not be very much surprised if in the 
dearth of others he may succeed. That would effectu- 
ally finish the University. In the meantime however 
the laTN^^ers say that everything we do is illegal, as our 
corporation is incomplete and the Grovernor only ver- 
bally agrees to our Statutes and tells us to act on them 
but does not formally sanction them, intending that 
we shall pass one general statute including the whole 
when we have a chancellor. It is not a pleasant posi- 
tion to be in and many members of the Senate are be- 


ginning to talk of ceasing attendance altogether. Our 
contract for the building too is in a curious position. 
If the Senate does not exist surely it cannot contract, 
and our Solicitor had great objections to drawing up 
the contract and told me if I signed it he thought I 
should be personally liable. However I ran the risk 
and signed it and affixed the seal of the University, 
acting by the Chief Justice's advice who said that 
unless the seal is affixed by fraud no court would refuse 
to recognize it. Rumour says that we are to have no 
chancellor but that we are to be left as we are till 
Parliament meets when there will be a new Act. In 
any case there will be a new Act, which the Governor 
is now drawing up. It will restore us the management 
of our property and make us independent of the Gov- 
ernment and reunite or draw closer the bonds between 
the College and the University. This is as it should be 
but can he carry it ? He says he thinks he can depend 
upon Lower Canada for support but I doubt, and above 
all can he depend upon his Government w^hich I doubt 
more. Once introduce the subject in Parliament and 
no one can tell how it will come out of it. The whole 
tiling may be legislated away, and most probably I 
shall. It is disheartening, but Avhat is a man to do. 
Every stone that goes up in the building, every book 
that is bought is so much more anchorage and so much 
less plunder to fight for. It is said so live as if you 
might die to-morrow, and in this case I try to do the 
converse to act as if we w^ere to live for ever. If we 
survive it is so much gain, if we fall the good we do 
will not be thro^vn away altogether; there will prob- 
ably be some remnant left to benefit by it, or some 
other man who will have an abuse the less to correct. 



[In reply to a request from England for information 
as to how the Church of England in Canada managed 
without the Clergy Reserves.] 

Ottawa, 29th Oct., 1869 
When I was in politics this was a vexed question. 
Of course as a churchman I was willing enough to have 
any aid for the church, but in a country like Canada 
where we have no established form of religion, where 
the Church of England is in a decided minority, it 
would have been manifestly unjust to have a public 
maintenance for it, and not for other denominations, 
and however stoutly we had fought for retaining this 
benefit, it would only have been a question of time and 
have raised all sorts of ill will amongst us. 

I therefore went for the abolition of the Clergy 
Reserves, being certainly the only Church of England 
man in the House and nearly the only one in the coun- 
try that did so. You may imagine that I had hard 
times of it mth our people, without gaining much sup- 
port from the other side. The arguments which had 
really convinced me — the injustice of the existing ar- 
rangement, and the impolicy of protracting a useless 
contest — had no weight with my friends, and being 
hard pressed I boldly argued that the Clergy Reserves, 
instead of being any real benefit, were a drag upon the 
progress of the Church of England, and that we should 
thrive twice as well without them. I well remember a 



speech in the House in which I advanced this argument, 
and brought forward as an instance a toA\'nship (Dum- 
nier) in my own county. About half of it was settled 
with Presbyterians (Scotch), the other half by Wilt- 
shire men ^vith a sprinkling of northern Irish, who 
were also for the most part churchmen. The Wiltshire 
men were very strenuous for having a clergjanan sent 
to them, and argued, not without reason, that if the 
six-sevenths of the land which they occupied could 
support them, the other seventh reserved for the clergy 
ought to provide them with a parson; but not one of 
them ever dreamt of their paying anything themselves 
towards his support. From their childhood upward it 
had appeared to be in the immutable order of things 
that there should be a parson, and whilst the land was 
there why need they, who had hard work to live them- 
selves, pay anything? The Scotch, having nothing else 
to depend on, soon subscribed to have a minister to 
visit them once a month and then once a fortnight, and 
finally built him a modest house and had one all to 
themselves. Wandering Methodists also visited them 
from time to time, and the Irishmen mostly joined tha't 
sect ; but the Wiltshire men were very stubborn, and 
never went to church at all. After a while however the 
young people had to get married, and there were chil- 
dren to be christened, and old people to be comforted 
in sickness and buried, and the Presbyterian minister 
being at hand they went to him, and ended in becoming 
regular attendants and subscribing with the rest of 
the congregation. If there had been no such nominal 
provision as the Clergy Reserves, I argued, these men 
would still have belonged to the church. Now you may 
imagine how satisfactory it was to find that within a 
year after the Clergy Reserves were secularized, the 

John Laxgtox 
Aetat. 70 


old Wiltshire men, finding they could no longer rely 
upon government for anything, and taking example 
from their Scotch neighbours, subscribed and built a 
very nice little church, and parsonage, and have now a 
resident clergyman amongst them. But the evil once 
done is not so easily undone. They have not got all 
their Wiltshiremen back from the Presbyterians, and 
very few of the Irish from the Methodists. But since 
1860 the members of the Church of England have in- 
creased in numbers. I was told by our former clergy- 
man at Fenelon Falls that in his new country parish 
near Toronto he had nearly doubled his congregation 
since the abolition of the Clergy Reserves, almost all 
the new accessions being old churchmen who for want 
of a regular church had got into the habit of going to 
the Methodists. After all the abuse which I got in 
1854, much of it very hard personal abuse, I have lived 
to be thanked by more than one clergyman for aiding 
in conferring a great benefit on the Church. The fact 
is that there is no denomination so well able to support 
its clergy as ours, and none that did so little till we 
were thrown on our own resources. It has also had a 
wholesome effect on the clergy themselves. The laity 
hold the purse strings, and cannot be altogether set 
aside as something profane. At a meeting of the 
Church Society at Quebec some of the parsons were 
explaining their experiences in extracting money from 
their congregations. One of them, recommending fre- 
quency of small contributions instead of larger sums 
occasionally, appealed to me, as having been a farmer, 
whether steady milking was not the best rule to follow. 
I assented as to the milking, but added that I had found 
good and steady feeding quite as essential, which plan 
I strongly recommended the assembled parsons to try. 


Abercrombie, Sir Ralph, 128 
Aberdeen, 61 

Adelaide township, 14, 72, 73 
Albany, 160 

Athill or Atthill, — , 33, 50, 62, 
145, 176, 190, 191, 192 

Baby, — , 269 

Badgley, William, 217 

Bald lake, 38 

Baldwin, Robert, 257, 277, 278, 

279 283 
Baldwin, (Colonel), 48 
Balsam Canal, 129 
Balsam lake, 10, 13, 14, 69, 74, 

142, 156, 176 
Bank of Montreal, xxxviii 
Bank of Upper Canada, xxxix, 

98, 163, 240, 244 
Barber, E. C, 232, 233 
Barclay, (Dr. and Mrs.), 176 
Beaston, — , 50 
Beaven, James, 290, 291 
Bedford, — , 22 
Beehive, The, xv, 203 
Begley, Thomas A., 270 
Belfast, 50 
Bellingham, — , 69 
Bethune, — , 98, 100, 140 
Bettridge, William, 142 
Bick, George, 203 
Bidwell, — , 162, 171 
Birley, R., 139 
Blake, William Hume, 255, 282, 

283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 291, 

292, 296 
Blandford, 66 
Blythe, xv, 129, 134, 143, 146, 

154, 159, 164, 166, 173, 174, 

175, 182, 183, 191, 194 
Blythe Hall, xiii, xiv 
Bob-ca-je-won-unk, 43, 56, 73, 

74, 97, 102, 104, 106, 109. See 

also Bob Cajwin, Bob-cajion- 

unk and Bobcaygeon 

Bob-cajion-unk, 29, 32, 38. See 
also Bobcajewonunk, Bob Caj- 
win a7id Bobcaygeon. 

Bob Cajwin, 8, 14, 17, 22, 24, 29. 
See also Bob-cajion-unk, Bob- 
cajewonunk and Bobcaygeon 

Bobcaygeon, xxviii, 32, 120, 144, 
146, 152, 166, 175, 179, 181, 
182, 204. See also Bobcaje- 
wonunk, Bob-cajion-unk and 
Bob Cajwin 

Boston, 159, 160 

Boswell, George M., 167 

Botany Bay, xxvi 

Bouchette, Robert Shore Milnes, 

Boyce, — , 63 

Boyd, Mossom, 152, 153, 203, 
204, 207, 209 

Bridgenorth, 21 

Brock, 80 

Brown, (Colonel) and family, 6, 
36, 121, 133 

Buckhorn lake, 14, 28, 38 

Buckhorn rapids, 205, 209 

Buffalo, xxxii 

Burleigh rapids, 205 

Burnt river, 13 

Bury, William Coutts Keppel, 
Viscount, 213 

Caddy, Edward, 104 

Cambie, Charles, 231 

Cambleton, 6, 21 

Cambridge, xiv, xxxiii, 23 

Cameron o?- Cameron's lake, 13, 
23, 42, 69, 74, 128, 137, 177 

Cameron's Falls, 8, 9, 10, 13, 18, 
19, 24, 31, 42, 45, 49, 50, 56, 
63, 64, 69, 72, 97, 102, 123, 127, 
129, 137, 141, 144, 166. See 
also Fenelon Falls 

Campbell, Sir John, 62 

Campbellford, 6 

Canada Company, xxvii, 73 




Canadian Historical Review, v 
Cartier, Sir George Etienne, 

216, 251 
Cartwright township, 48 
Gary, Joseph, 214 

Gauchon, Joseph Edouard, 216, 

261, 263 
Gayley, William, 213, 214, 215, 

217, 218, 222, 226, 230, 237, 
241, 247, 255, 257, 259, 262, 
263, 264, 268, 269, 271, 273 

Gedar Point, 45 
GhafTej^, Benjamin, 221 
Ghauveau, Pierre Joseph Olivier, 

Ghemong lake, 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 

105. See also Mud lake 
Gobourg, 4, 5, 6, 14, 16, 20, 24, 

50, 74, 96, 98, 99, 100, 101, 103, 

Golborne, Sir John, xxvii, 11, 128, 

129, 134, 160, 172 
Golbourne district, 183, 193 
Colonial Advocate, xxii, xxiv 
Gommercial Bank, 163 
Gonstitution Island, 169, 175 
Gork, xxxix, 62 
Grane, Bill, 28 
Grawford, (Miss), 50 
Gredit river, xxxi 
Cruse, Thomas, 230, 231, 256, 

Cumberland, Frederick William, 

292, 294, 295 
Gummings, — , 207 
Gurrer, Alice, xv 

Darcos or D'Arcos, — , 17, 50, 

62, 69 
Davidson, (Captain), 166 
Dawson, — , 227 
Deer Bay or lake, 38 
Dennistoun, Robert, 137, 142, 

144, 147, 155, 164, 166, 167, 

174, 176, 178, 179, 180, 182, 

Dennistoun, (Mrs), 179 
Dickenson, William, 219, 225, 

230, 242 
Dobbs, (Captain), 63, 123, 127, 

D'Olier, — , 182 
Douro township, xxxix, 7, 104 
Draper, William Henry, 292 
Drummond, Lewis Thomas, 216 

Dublin, 62 

Dudley, — , 154 

Duff, Grant, 50, 61 

Dummer, Township of, 302 

Dundas, 79 

Dunsford, Hartley, 203 

Dunsford, James Hartley, xv, 

Dunsford, James Wicks, 203, 

204, 209 
Durham, Lord, xxvii 
Durham, County of, 170 

Elgin, 50 

Elliot, Stephen, 8, 9, 10, 22 

Emily township, 48 

Erie Canal, 4 

Erie, Lake, 14, 80 

Erindale, xxxi 

Evans, — , 50 

Farmers Bank, 163 

Fenelon, Township of, 18, 25, 31, 

50, 63, 72, 75, 79, 87, 103, 119, 

127, 134, 138, 178 
Fenelon Falls, xv, 8, 72, 167, 174, 

176, 178, 179, 188, 192, 303. 

See also Cameron's Falls 
Ferguson, — , 99, 119, 120, 121 
Fisher, Janet, 72, 176, 177 
Fisher, (Judge), 177 
Fitchett, Abraham, 109, 110, 116, 

Five Nations Indians, 125. See 

also Mohawk Indians 
Forbes, Robert Millar, 72 
Forneri, James, 290 
Fortune, J. B., 168 
Fortune, Thomas, 168, 176 
Fortye, — , 128 
Foster, — , 176 
Eraser or Frazer, (Mr. or Mrs.), 

50, 62, 104, 105, 153, 155, 166 

Gilchrist, John, 167 

Glasgow, 167 

Glenelg, Lord, 195 

Globe, 271 

Glvn, Mills and Company, 219 

Gordon, Robert, 48, 49, 52, 64, 

Gore District, xxxix 
Grand Trunk Railway Company, 

219, 243, 257 
Grant, W. L.,xix, xxv, xxix, xxx, 




Greene, — , 231 
Grey, — , 115, 117 
Griffin, — , 176, 177 

Hackett, — , 156 

Haig, — , 182 

Hall, Basil, 7 

Hall, — , 71, 120 

Hamilton, xxxix, 26, 79 

Hamilton, Gawin, 164, 167. 174, 

176, 177, 182 
Hamilton, Robert, 144, 155, 164 
Hamilton, William, 144 
Hamilton, (Major) and family, 

128, 133, 136, 137, 138, 142, 

143, 144, 146, 147, 153, 155, 

168, 176, 177 
Harvey township, 50, 126 
Hav, (Lieutenant), 37, 38, 39, 

40, 41, 42, 43, 50 
Head, Sir Edmund Walker, xvi, 

213 259 280 
Head,' Sir' Francis Bond, 160, 

162, 171, 172, 180, 193 
Head, Lady, 295 
Heywood, Sir Benjamin, xv, 179 
Heywood, Messrs B., and Co., 

179, 182, 191 
Hincks, Sir Francis, 227, 252, 

264, 266, 278 
Hodgins, John George, 251, 252, 

Howard, 6, 21 
Howison, John, xix, xxiii, xxvi, 

xxxi, XXXV, xxxvii 
Hudson river, 4 
Hudson River and Oswego Canal, 

Hudson's Bay Company, 155 
Hughes, — , 69, 71 
Hunter, Joseph, 16, 17, 18, 49, 

Huron, County of, 213 
Huron, Lake, 14 

Illinois, 146 

James, — , 128, 129 

Jameson, Anna Brownell, xix, 

xxiv, xxix, XXX, xxxi, xxxii, 

xxxiii, xxxiv, xxxix 
Jameson, Robert Sympson, xxxiv 
Jameson, — , 9, 24, 43, 44, 45, 50, 

54, 56, 57, 61, 62, 63, 69, 70, 

72, 73, 80, 108, 109, 117, 123, 
131, 133, 134, 136, 141, 144, 
145, 153, 154, 166, 178, 179, 
189, 191 

Kawartha lakes, 4 

Kennedv, W. P. M., xix 

Killaly,' Hamilton Hartley, 270 

Kinashgingiquash, Lake, 35 

King, John, 265, 290 

King, — , 50 

King's College, xxxii, xxxiii, 277, 

Kingston, xxxv, xxx\iii, 21, 168, 

172, 173, 176, 213 
Kirkpatrick, Sir George Airey, 

Kirkpatrick, Stafford Frederick, 

168, 169, 174, 176, 177 
Kirkpatrick, Thomas, 168 
Kirkpatrick, (Mrs. S. F.), 176, 


Lakefield, 43 

Langevin, — , 227 

Langton, Anne, vi, ix, xiv, xv 

Langton, Lydia, xv 

Langton, Thomas, xiii, xiv, xv 

Langton, William, v, xiii, xiv, 
xv, 68, 179, 182 

Lecky, William Edward Hart- 
pole, 266 

Lemieux, Francois Xavier, 216, 

Lennox and Addington, County 
of, 171, 177 

Lisbon, 61 

Liverpool, xiii, xiv, 3, 9, 11, 24, 
50, 61, 72, 97, 113, 154, 159 

London, 101, 190 

London (Canada West), xxxix 

London District, 66 

Londonderry, 62 

Long Island, 160 

19, 27, 29, 
46, 47, 48, 
58, 59, 60, 
69, 70, 76, 
95. 97, 105 
116, 118, 
134, 137, 
144, 145, 
153, 154, 

Alexander, 17, 18, 

32, 33, 43, 44, 45, 

49, 50, 51, 56, 57, 

61, 64, 65, 67, 68, 

82, 83, 84, 93, 94, 

, 106, 107, 108, 109, 

123, 127, 129, 133, 

1.38, 1.39, 140, 14.3, 

146, 147, 149, 150, 

155, 156, 179, 180, 



McCall. — , 69, 71, 76, 79, 80, 

83, 84, 94, 98, 99, 105, 107, 

109, 129, 145 
McCaul, John, 265, 279, 280, 284, 

285, 286, 289, 290, 291, 293, 

McConnell, — , 46, 174, 175 
McCue. See McQue 
Macdonald, Sir John Alexander, 

213, 216, 217, 248, 257, 259, 

263, 271, 295 
McDonell, Alexander, 19, 37, 78, 

121, 167, 168, 170, 173 
McGregor, John, xix 
McGue. See McQue 
Mclnnes, — , 117 
Mackenzie, William Lyon, xxii, 

xxiv, 101, 162, 167, 170, 214, 

McKue, Billy, 17 
Maclaren, (Major), 72, 165 
MacMullen, John, xix 
McNab, Sir Allan Napier, 256, 

257, 258, 259, 260 
McQue, Billy, 38, 105, 116, 122 
McQue, James, 17, 22, 33 
Macredie, Thomas, 137, 144, 145, 

153, 154, 155, 164, 165, 167, 

Macredie, William A., 69, 70, 71, 

76, 78, 79, 83, 84, 92, 94, 97, 

98, 102, 107, 108, 109, 114, 115, 

117, 118, 129, 133, 134, 137 

144, 145, 146, 153, 154, 155, 

164, 165 
Magrath, T. W., xix, xxii, xxxi 
Manchester, xv, 11, 103 
Manchester and Salford Bank, 


Mariposa township, 80 
Mavor, James, xix, xxii, xxiv 
Meilleur, Jean Baptiste, 239, 252 
Menzies, John, 142, 164, 165, 166 
Merino, 72 
Mersey river, 97 
Michigan, xxv, 193 
Miles, Robert S., 155 
Missisauga Indians, 76, 125 
Mohawk Indians, 23, 124, 125, 

Montreal, xxii, xxxv, 14, 61, 65, 

72, 75, 76, 101, 138, 202, 216, 

Moore, 66 

Morison, John, 50, 61 

Morris, William, 215 

Morrison, Joseph Curran, 257, 

259, 269 
Mud lake, 7, 21, 27, 43, 137, 167, 

176. See also Chemong lake 
Mudge, — , 37, 38, 50 

Need, Thomas, 8, 10, 14, 18, 19, 

32, 34, 39, 43, 46, 49, 50, 57, 
62, 106, 109, 126, 129, 133, 134, 
144, 145, 152, 153, 176, 179, 
180, 182, 190 

Newcastle District, 4, 5, 11, 12, 

14, 35, 66, 99, 130 
New York, 3, 4, 154, 159, 160, 

180, 182 
Niagara and Niagara Falls, 

xxxi, 9, 24, 26, 76, 79, 80, 82, 

Nicholls, — , 202, 208 
Nogy, Captain, 22, 28 

O'Flynn, Daniel, 46, 47, 49, 60 
Ohio, xxxi, 76, 80 
Oliphant, Laurence, 213 
Ontario, Lake, 14, 24, 79, 98, 120 
Ops township, 8, 14, 47, 48, 57, 

109, 152 
Ormskirk (Lancashire), xiii 
Oswego, 4, 160 
Otonabee river, 5, 21, 25, 128, 

168, 170 
Ottawa, 301 
Oxford, xxxiii, 62 

Parr, — , 84 

Patterson, James, 232 

Perry, Peter, 162, 170 

Pestalozzi, Heinrich, xiv 

Peterborough, vi, ix, xv, xvi, 
xxxiv, xxxix, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 14, 
17, 19, 21, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 

33, 34, 36, 38, 39, 43, 49, 50, 
51, 52, 55, 56, 57, 60, 62, 64, 
70, 71, 72, 75, 82, 95, 96, 98, 
99, 104, 105, 107, 109, 118, 
119, 120, 121, 128, 130, 131, 
132, 133, 136, 137, 138, 140, 
141, 142, 144, 146, 147, 150, 
155, 160, 163, 164, 166, 167, 
168, 169, 170, 172, 173, 175, 

177, 180, 181, 182, 183, 191, 
193, 202, 203, 205, 206, 207, 



Peterborough, County of, xvi 

Peterborough Gazette, 203 

Philadelphia, 159 

Pickering, 80 

Pigeon creek, 48 

Pigeon lake, 8, 14, 17, 22, 32, 

104, 105 
Plains, The, xxxix, 128 
Port Hope, 74 
Port Hope Canal, 74, 78 
Prescott, XXXV 
Providence, 160 
Purdon, (Captain), 166 
Purdy, — , 48, 70, 81, 82, 98, 

107, 147, 181 

Quebec, xxii, xxvii, 152, 202, 
206, 207, 209, 213, 216, 303 
Quinte, Bay of, 14, 21 

Rebridge, — , 156 

Reilly, — , 117 

Rice lake, 4, 5, 14, 21, 24, 74, 98, 

168, 170 
Richards, Sir William Buell, 237 
Rideau Canal, xxiv, xxxviii 
Ridout, — , 255 
Riga, xiii 

Riviere du Loup, 216 
Robinson, Sir John Beverley, 

xxix, xxxiii 
Robinson, Peter, xxxix, 169, 172 
Rochester, 77, 79 
Rokeby, 32, 46, 166 
Ross, John, 257 
Royal Standard, xxxii 
Ruttan, Henry, 167, 170 
Ryerson, Egerton, 223, 226, 227, 

239, 242, 249, 250, 251, 252, 

253, 254, 255, 265, 266, 270, 

271, 283 

St. Albans, 32 

St. Catharines, xxxix 

St. Lawrence river, 80, 216 

Sandy lake, 14, 37, 43 

Sandy Point, 45 

Sawbridge, — , 172 

Sawers, (Captain), 8, 10, 17, 29, 

33, 39, 50, 62, 104, 145, 174 
Schenectady, 160 
Scott, Adam, xxxix, 128 

Scott's Plains, See Plains, The 

Scugog lake, 181 

Scugog river, 8, 35, 47, 48, 70, 

80, 97, 119 
Selby, 43 

Shairp, (Major), 133 
Shaw, — , 168, 169 
Shirreff, Patrick, xix, xxviii, 

xxxviii, xxxix, xl, 146 
Simcoe, Lake, 13, 14, 19, 74, 129, 

131, 154 
Smith, Sir Henry, 259 
Smith, William, 15 
Smith, — , 126 
Spence, Robert, 242, 259 
Spoke Island, 169 
Spragge, — , 227 
Stewart, Frances, xix, xxx, 

xxxix, xl, 7, 17 
Stewart, Thomas Alexander, 6, 

7, 160, 164, 176 
Strachan, John, xxxiii, 178, 182, 

Stuart, (Captain), 66 
Stuart, Mr. See Stewart, Thomas 

Sturgeon lake, xv, xxvii, xxxiv, 

4, 8, 14, 22, 25, 27, 32, 56, 

74, 103, 104, 145, 152, 203 
Sturgeon Point, 18, 19, 31, 97, 

Sully, 21, 167, 168, 169, 170 
Sydenham, Lord, 270 

Tache, Sir Etienne Pascal, 218, 
259, 260 

Talbot river, 129 

Tarbutt, — , 144 

Thompson, Samuel, xix, xxx 

Toronto, xvi, xxx, xxxi, xxxii, 
xxxiii, xxxiv, xxxix, 4, 94, 96, 
97, 98, 99, 101, 103, 107, 137, 
166, 173, 192, 215, 217, 230, 
242, 277, 280, 282, 284, 296, 
303. See also York 

Toronto, University of, xvi, 
xxxiii, 277-297 passim 

Traill, Catherine Parr, xix, xxvi, 
XXXV, xxxvi, xxxvii, xxxix, xl 

Traill, (Lieutenant) , xxxv, xxxvi 

Trent river, 14, 21, 209 

Trent Valley Canal, xxv, 11, 74, 
128, 181, 183